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U.S. Senator Josh Hawley confronted former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Missouri Republican questioned Rosenstein during his first public appearance before Congress in a year, as he defended his actions in the FBI’s Russia probe and his decision to appoint Robert Mueller in 2017 as special counsel. Hawley slammed Democrats for the investigation and for effectively admitting that Mueller’s report on the findings is “of no consequence.”
Hawley expressed his incredulity at the idea that Rosenstein had “signed off” on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants that were secured on former Trump adviser Carter Page, and which Rosenstein admitted he would not have signed then if he knew what he knows today.
The former Justice Department official contended that “every application I approved appeared to be justified based on the facts it alleged,” in his opening statement, blaming the FBI for “not following the written protocols” in filing the applications.
In a report by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, 17 “significant errors and omissions” were found in those applications.
“How could you sign off on something with this number of misrepresentations that the FISA Court later came back and said this destroys our trust in the FBI,” Hawley questioned Rosenstein on Wednesday. “You signed off on it personally. How could this happen?”
Rosenstein defended his action, noting that four federal judges also signed off, “because, like me, they believed that the information had been verified and was accurate.”
But Hawley was having none of the excuses, accusing Rosenstein of “rubber-stamping” the warrants without reading them. The former Deputy Attorney General acknowledged that he was “accountable” but “the question is, why did it happen?”
Hawley argued that the “process that was so corrupted” was clearly a “threat to American democracy” and the integrity of the election process. When Rosenstein again tried to explain the difficulty of trying to verify information, Hawley exploded.
“So who should we hold responsible?” he demanded.
“Yelling at me is not going to solve the problem,” Rosenstein countered. “We need to figure out what happened…and fix them so it won’t happen again.”
“Yeah, of course,” Hawley said dismissing the rhetoric, thanking him and sarcastically noting the Senate Committee would “take every pain not to hold you accountable or responsible.”
“What has happened is unacceptable!” Hawley exclaimed, adding that “nobody seems to want to do anything.”
“I look forward to hearing how the FBI has weaponized the FISA Court gain in this election year! Who knows?” We’ll be hearing about that in two or three years from now.”
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