Rod Rosenstein defends Russia probe, says he serves at Trump's pleasure

USA TODAY

Published 9:07 PM EDT Oct 17, 2018

Rod Rosenstein defends Russia probe, says he serves at Trump's pleasure

WASHINGTON - In his first interview since reports surfaced that his future at the Justice Department may be in jeopardy, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling. 

Rosenstein, speaking with the Wall Street Journal, said he understood the pushback about the probe but defended it as "appropriate and independent," a clear deviation from the president, who has repeatedly called the investigation a "hoax." 

"People are entitled to be frustrated, I can accept that," he told the newspaper. "But at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence and that it was an appropriate use of resources."

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Rosenstein also used the interview to show the president is supportive of the Justice Department. He defended the embattled Russia investigation, which he oversees after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, and said he would continue to ensure that the probe was handled appropriately. 

“I have a solemn responsibility to make sure that cases like that are pursued and prosecuted, and I’m pleased the president has been supportive of that,” Rosenstein said.

The Wall Street Journal said Rosenstein declined to talk about the reports that he'd discussed recording the president or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office last year amid chaos after the firing of FBI Director James Comey. 

He also reportedly did not talk about the effect the incident had on his relationship with Trump. 

After the reports surfaced, Rosenstein was summoned to the White House. Officials told reporters that he expected to be fired on arrival. Officials were so convinced that Rosenstein was out, said another person with knowledge of events, that a formal statement was drafted for public release.

But he wasn't fired. Instead, Rosenstein talked with Trump aboard Air Force One last week and the president, after their meeting, said he did not have any intentions of dismissing Rosenstein.

“The president knows that I am prepared to do this job as long as he wants me to do this job,” Rosenstein told the Wall Street Journal. “You serve at the pleasure of the president, and there’s never been any ambiguity about that in my mind.”

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