U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Baltimore audience Monday that the 24-hour news cycle is “not the verdict of history,” referring to the media firestorm surrounding his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
“What is courage in government?” he said in a video released by the Baltimore Sun. “It certainly includes standing on principle, ignoring the tyranny of the news cycle, resisting the urge to spin, remaining focused on the things that matter.”
“The daily newspapers and endless talk shows are not the verdict of history,” he added.
“To paraphrase Will Rogers, the problem with some people is not so much what they don’t know—it’s what they think they know that just ain’t so,” he continued as the audience chuckled. “Many people have offered me unsolicited advice over the past few days about what I should do to promote my personal reputation, but I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing in that oath about my reputation.”
“If you ask me, one of the main problems in Washington, D.C., is everybody is so busy running around trying to protect their reputation instead of protecting the republic, which is what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said as the audience applauded loudly.
Last Tuesday, Rosenstein recommended Comey’s immediate dismissal in a memorandum to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, citing his handling of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s FBI probe and perspectives from aghast former attorneys general and deputy attorneys general on his conduct as FBI director.
“The Director announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders,” Rosenstein wrote, also slamming Comey for laying out a damning case against Clinton in July for her use of a private, unsecured email server containing classified information as Secretary of State—then saying that DOJ officials should not pursue any charges against Clinton.
“We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation… The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do,” the letter stated.