Rod Rosenstein Says He Wouldn’t Have Appointed Special Counsel To Investigate Donald Trump
A former senior Justice Department official in the Trump administration on Sunday questioned the attorney general’s decision last week to appoint a special counsel to investigate the former president.
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Attorney General Merrick Garland might believe an outside attorney would lend more credibility to the investigation.
“It’s easy to guess from outside the ministry. I don’t know exactly what Merrick Garland knows, what information was available to him. He did not say he was required to appoint the Special Counsel. He said he thought it was the right thing to do,” said Mr. Rosenstein, who served as an assistant attorney general under Mr. Trump from 2017 to 2019.
Mr. Garland on Friday appointed Jack Smith, the former chief prosecutor of the special court in The Hague, where he investigated war crimes in Kosovo, to lead investigations into Mr. Trump and his role in the attack on the January 6, 2021 against the Capitol and in the caching of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for the presidency in the upcoming elections, and the incumbent president’s stated intention to also be a candidate, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a lawyer,” Mr. Garland told a news conference.
Mr. Rosenstein said the circumstances he faced with appointing Robert Mueller, it was the right thing to do during the Trump-Russia investigation, but Mr. Garland’s choice to appoint a special counsel is now a “discretionary decision”.
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“The department had been dealing with it on its own for two years and could have continued to manage it on its own, but it felt it would help build public confidence,” he said.
Mr. Rosenstein continued: “It’s easy to guess from the outside. I think my inclination, given that the investigation had been ongoing for some time and given the stage they’ve reached, is that I probably wouldn’t have, but I just can’t say it from the outside,” he said.
At an America First gala at Mar-a-Lago on Friday, Mr Trump said the DOJ investigations against him were a “horrific abuse of power” and called the nomination an “appalling announcement”.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and Jan. 6 committee member, applauded the appointment of the special adviser. He hoped the same prosecutors who previously investigated Mr. Trump and others could be transferred to the prosecutor’s special team.
“There’s every reason to do it, no reason not to, and, I think the person who was chosen seems to be eminently capable and qualified,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” . “My concern, frankly, has led to this point, which is that they’ve been very slow at the department to work through the multiple lines of effort to nullify the election.”