Accusations Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pushed to secret record President Donald Trump and lobbied Cabinet members to dispose the president had many loyalists calling for the Justice Department official’s termination.
But U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz hasn’t joined them—yet.
“Unverified gossip,” Gaetz said in a statement, “does not equal probable cause — except, it would seem, in the case of FISA warrants against then-candidate Trump.”
The prospect of Rosenstein’s firing started trending yesterday after The New York Times reported the Justice Department offices in spring of 2017 suggested secretly recording conversations with the president and suggested Cabinet members invoke the 25th Amendment to deem Trump unfit for office and remove him.
News media personalities like Fox News pundits Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham called for Rosenstein’s immediate ouster over the news.
Rod rosenstein shld have been fired long ago for being part of the ‘resistance’ and not providing documents to congress in order to save his corrupt pals. NOW HE MUST BE FIRED.
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) September 21, 2018
But while Gaetz has leveled plenty of criticism at the Justice Department and FBI over its handling of investigations into Donald Trump, and in July even called for Rosenstein’s impeachment, he cautioned Friday against responding abruptly to the Times report.
In a lengthy statement, he noted Rosenstein immediately denied allegations and that reports in the Times and elsewhere came from anonymous sources.
“Furthermore, the reports differ in their assessment of Mr. Rosenstein’s intent in saying these words. Some sources claim he was speaking in jest; others say that he was serious,” Gaetz said.
That doesn’t mean Gaetz developed any sudden affection for Rosenstein, he stressed.
“Though I have many objections to Mr. Rosenstein’s performance as Deputy Attorney General—including ignoring multiple Congressional subpoenas, refusing to confirm information under oath, failure to properly vet FISA warrants that he signed, unnecessarily redacting key documents turned over to Congressional investigators, threatening staff members of the Intelligence Committee with retribution, refusing to turn over the document that outlines the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and eroding the American people’s faith in the Department of Justice—until concrete evidence emerges, these accusations remain salacious and unverified, and should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism,” Gaetz said.
Should evidence emerge Rosenstein ever seriously pushed for the president’s ouster or for secret surveillance, that’s a different situation, Gaetz said. And it’s worth checking out.
“I have requested that the Judiciary Committee convene hearings with Mr. Rosenstein, and others who are alleged to have been in the room at the time, in order to ascertain the truth,” Gaetz said.
“Needless to say, if these inflammatory and disturbing claims are true, they constitute grounds for Mr. Rosenstein’s immediate removal. These remarks are an insidious attack on President Trump, and an assault on the presidency as a whole.”