With new and conflicting statements coming from the White House daily about last week’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was called for questioning by a group of senators in a closed-door meeting Thursday.
Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) were passionate in their questioning, described by some as “heated.” The two Democrats looked for detail not only about the Comey firing, but the scope of the ongoing Russia investigation.
The two also grilled Rosenstein on the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in both Comey’s firing and the hiring Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to head the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.
While the session did become heated at times, spokespersons from both sides say the questioning never reached the point of being rude or inappropriate.
“They weren’t inappropriate,” said one GOP senator. “They were asking strong questions that were strongly felt. I didn’t think anybody was inappropriate.”
For his part, Rosenstein was mostly forthcoming with answers, though hesitant to go into too much detail. Rosenstein gave Dems encouraging news when he told the group that the scope of the Russia probe would be broad.However, he deferred many of his answers to Mueller to give the prosecutor a chance to come to his own conclusions.
While Democrat, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that felt that deference was appropriate, a pair of Republicans, Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are on record as being frustrated by Rosenstein’s answers, saying it simply showed that it would be difficult for the Senate Committee to continue its investigation.
When directly asked if the Senate investigation could continue now that there is a special prosecutor in place, Rosenstein answered bluntly that the senate’s work could and should continue.