Rosenstein: Trump Special Counsel Appointment Signals DOJ Belief in a ‘Viable Potential Case’

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the appointment of a special counsel to oversee federal investigations into former President Donald Trump showed the Department of Justice believes it has a “viable potential case” against him.

Partial transcript as follows:

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get right to it. Due to the former president launching his campaign, the current president may also run for president, the attorney general said it is absolutely necessary to have a special counsel oversee this investigation into the classified documents found at Mar a Lago and what happened with trying to change the outcome of the 2020 election. If you were in that old role you once had, would you have appointed a special counsel?

ROSENSTEIN: You know, it’s easy to second guess from outside the department. I don’t know exactly what Merrick Garland knows, what information was available to him. He didn’t say that he was required to appoint the special counsel. He said that he thought it was the right thing to do. I believed the circumstances that I faced, that the appointment of Robert Mueller was the right thing to do with regard to the Russia investigation. But I think in this case, Merrick Garland clearly made a discretionary decision. The department had been handling this itself for two years. Could have continued to handle it itself. But he believed that this would help to promote public confidence. I think it remains to be seen whether that’s the case.

BRENNAN: So you wouldn’t have done this to yourself?

ROSENSTEIN: As I said, it’s it’s easy to second guess from outside. I think, you know, my inclination, given that the investigation had been going on for some time and given the stage which they’ve reached, is that I probably would not have, but I just can’t tell from the outside.

BRENNAN: So from where you sit, does the appointment of a special counsel indicate at least a willingness on Merrick Garland part to go ahead with a prosecution, or is that overreading the decision?

ROSENSTEIN: I think what it indicates is that, you know, despite the fact the department has been at this for some time, almost two years on the January six investigation, close to a year, the Mar a Lago investigation, that they still believe that they have a viable potential case. It doesn’t mean they made a decision to go forward. But it certainly is an indication they believe it’s a possibility.

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