House conservatives have begun planning the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to reports.
Leading Freedom Caucus members Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are laying the groundwork to bring articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, as House investigators accuse the Justice Department of stonewalling their requests for documents related to the agency’s surveillance of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
House conservatives are preparing a new push to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to three conservative Capitol Hill sources — putting the finishing touches on an impeachment filing even as Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, in fact, had the impeachment document on the floor of the House at the very moment that Rosenstein spoke to reporters and TV cameras Friday.
Reports of the plan come after Rosenstein announced charges Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses during the 2016 election and pushed back on allegations that FBI agents are leaking details of the probe to reporters. The Russians are accused of hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton – then releasing stolen emails on the Internet in the months before the election.
The indictment represents special counsel Robert Mueller’s first charges against Russian government officials for interfering in American politics, an effort U.S. intelligence agencies claim was aimed at helping the Trump campaign and harming his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. The case follows a separate indictment that accused Russians of using social media to sow discord among American voters.
The 29-page indictment purports how, months before Americans went to the polls, Russians schemed to break into key Democratic email accounts, including those belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Stolen emails, many politically damaging for Clinton, appeared on WikiLeaks in the campaign’s final stretch.
MORE: DOJ announces indictment of 12 twelve Russian nationals "for committing federal crimes that were intended to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election." https://t.co/BHK5srongc pic.twitter.com/Y3Wsodgoid
— ABC News (@ABC) July 13, 2018
Rosenstein recently testified before House lawmakers on the details about the Justice Department’s surveillance tactics during the Russia investigation. The House Judiciary Committee hearing marked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s first appearance before Congress since an internal DOJ report criticizing the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation revealed new disparaging text messages among FBI officials about Donald Trump during the 2016 election. FBI Director Christopher Wray also appeared at the hearing. Republicans on the panel grilled the deep state officials on the watchdog report to highlighting bias by the FBI.
“This country is being hurt by it. We are being divided,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said of Mueller’s investigation. “Whatever you got,” Gowdy added, “Finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.”
Rosenstein, who lost his cool at times, raised his voice and wagged his finger while defending himself and the department against allegations of stonewalling. The Justice Department officials claimed despite Republican allegations, he was “not trying to hide anything.”
“We are not in contempt of this Congress, and we are not going to be in contempt of this Congress,” Rosenstein told lawmakers.
Underscoring their merited frustration, Republicans briefly put the hearing on hold so they could approve a resolution on the House floor demanding that the Justice Department turn over thousands of documents within a seven day period.
The resolution that passed along party lines Thursday demanded that the department turn over by July 6 documents on FBI investigations into Clinton’s private email use and Trump campaign ties to Russia. Both investigations unfolded during the presidential election, causing the FBI — which prides itself on independence — to become entangled in presidential politics in ways that are continuing to shake out. Meadows, one of the resolution’s sponsors, did not deny Democratic assertions that the document requests were related to efforts to undercut Mueller’s probe.
“Yes, when we get these documents, we believe that it will do away with this whole fiasco of what they call the Russian Trump collusion because there wasn’t any,” he said on the House floor.
The House judiciary and intelligence panels, which have subpoenaed the documents, want to use the records for congressional investigations into the FBI’s decision to clear Clinton in the email probe and its opening of an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Justice Department has already turned over more than 800,000 documents to congressional committees, yet the subpoenas seek additional materials, including records about any surveillance of Trump campaign associates.