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Deputy AG Rosenstein 'frustratingly cautious' in House briefing

21 Mai 2017

"Zero", Mr Trump said, at a news conference.

Asked outright whether he had asked Comey-as reported-to drop the investigation into the Moscow connections of his sacked national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Trump fired back: "No". He appeared to change his justification for the decision, pointing to a critical memo on Comey's performance by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

In Rosenstein's meetings with lawmakers, he reiterated the scathing critique laid out in his memo concerning Comey's handling of the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server, including Comey's July news conference announcing that the FBI would not recommend charges.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the federal investigation in an effort to re-establish independence from the White House. "But beyond that, we're going to have to work this thing out. I don't think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today". Rosenstein spoke to the Senate in closed session and in a secure underground room normally used for national security discussions. One part of the Senate SCIF is large enough to hold all 100 senators, a senior aide said. "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump told Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, according to a document read to Times reporters by an anonymous source.

Why Mr Rosenstein felt compelled to write the memo remains unknown. Democrat Senator Richard Durbin said Mr Rosenstein told the senators that he was not pressured into writing it.

This was the original reason provided by the White House in the immediate wake of Comey's dismissal, but two days later Trump revealed in a NBC interview: "It was set up a while ago". It is unclear whether Rosenstein addressed the report in the closed portion of the briefing.

Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.

One of us was admittedly very hard last week on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Upon leaving an all-members meeting with Rosenstein Friday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Rosenstein told members "he has no evidence that Comey asked for additional resources".

The Times report is the latest in what has been a steady stream of news that has arisen out of Trump's decision to fire Comey and which threatens to overshadow Trump's foreign travel. Trump went on to dismiss as "totally ridiculous" the notion that he himself may have committed a prosecutable-or even impeachable-offense in recent months, as argued by some critics who suspect him of obstructing the FBI's probe.

Rosenstein also updated Senators on his appointment of a special prosecutor during the meeting. "Even if Special Counsel Mueller wants to investigate the circumstances surrounding the memo, he has that authority", Butterfield said. Mr Rosenstein was "unequivocal" that the panel can and should continue its investigation, according to people familiar with his remarks.

Deputy AG Rosenstein 'frustratingly cautious' in House briefing