Rosenstein, Wray Face Angry House Republicans In Hearing

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, left, arrive to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Justice Department and FBI actions around the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray faced sharp questioning from lawmakers Thursday about the Justice Department’s independence, with Republicans accusing law enforcement of withholding important documents and demanding details about surveillance tactics during the Russia investigation.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee contend the department has conspired against President Donald Trump and refused to turn over documents they believe would show improper conduct by the FBI. They have seized on an inspector general report this month that revealed derogatory text messages about Trump exchanged by FBI officials who were part of the investigation into his presidential campaign.

The hearing comes as the House prepares to vote on a resolution that demands the department turn over thousands of documents by July 6 on FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private email use and Trump campaign ties to Russia.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the resolution in a contentious hearing Tuesday. On Wednesday, the panel privately interviewed an FBI agent involved in both investigations who had sent anti-Trump texts.

Wray and Rosenstein said law enforcement officials have been working diligently to turn over the requested records.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, signaled the tone of the hearing in his opening remarks when he complained about the FBI and the Justice Department not producing all of the documents that have been requested.

“The Department of Justice and the FBI are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. The President and Congress are,” Goodlatte said. “Our Constitutional oversight necessitates that institutions like the FBI and DOJ yield to Congress’ constitutional mandate.”

Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida demanded to know why Rosenstein had not recused from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president had committed obstruction of justice given Rosenstein’s role in laying the groundwork for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

“I can assure you that if it were appropriate for me to recuse, I’d be more than happy to do so,” Rosenstein said.




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