Former Obama administration officials expressed support for former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the days surrounding the May 2017 appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the debunked Russia collusion claims, conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch (JW) said Tuesday, citing internal government emails.
“These astonishing emails show that Rod Rosenstein had many Obama/Clinton and media friends supporting him around the time he infamously appointed Robert Mueller,” JW President Tom Fitton declared.
Following the recusal of then-AG Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017, to investigate U.S. presidential election interference by Russia, particularly alleged collusion between the Kremlin to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, JW announced:
Judicial Watch announced today it received 382 pages of documents showing former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s communications with former Obama officials, including Eric Holder and information sharing with the media in the days immediately surrounding the inception of the Mueller investigation.
In the days surrounding the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, Rosenstein received … multiple emails of support from former senior Obama administration officials [and others].
“Rod, We’re proud of you,” U.S. Attorney John Huber, an Obama appointee, wrote to Rosenstein in an email the day before Mueller’s appointment.
An email sent to Rosenstein by former Obama Special Counsel Jonathan Su a few days before DOJ announced Mueller’s appointment — on May 12, 2017 — said, “Hi Rod: I know there’s a lot going on right now, but I wanted to send you a note of support. If there’ s anything I can do to be of help, please let me know. Hope you hang in there.”
On May 13, 2017, former Obama White House Deputy Associate Counsel Mike Leotta also expressed support via email, saying “I hope you’re hanging in there, [redacted] despite all the press attention, attacks, and contradictory claims.”
On May 16, 2017, Rosenstein received another supportive email, this time from former Obama Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
“You have the right approach. I always found that if you concentrated on doing your job (protecting the constitution) your reputation takes care of itself,” Cole wrote.
The day before DOJ announced the Mueller appointment — May 16, 2017 — scheduling emails indicate that Rosenstein spoke with both top House Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Judicial Watch obtained the Rosenstein communication documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of the watchdog’s ongoing investigation into the activities of the former deputy attorney general.
The government watchdog is seeking all records of communications of Rosenstein between May 8 and May 17, 2017.
Early Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump congratulated U.S. Attorney General William Barr via Twitter “for taking charge” of the criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion probe.
President Trump wrote that the Russia probe was “improperly brought & tainted,” adding that “Mueller lied to Congress”:
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
While briefing reporters in the White House alongside the president of Ecuador later in the day, Trump doubled down on his criticism of the Mueller investigation, saying “it was illegally set up” and “based on false documents.”
DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz reported last December that the FBI spied on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016 and suggested then-President Obama likely knew about it.
Rosenstein served as Trump’s deputy AG from April 2017 until May of last year. Former President George W. Bush appointed Rosenstein to serve as the U.S. attorney in Maryland. He remained in that role during the eight years of the Obama administration.
In March 2019, Mueller released his findings, noting that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia. The special counsel, however, stopped short of exonerating the president of the alleged obstruction of his Russia collusion hoax investigation.
AG William Barr and Rosenstein stepped in and determined the evidence was not enough to support claims of obstruction.