When questioned by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein admitted that at the time of his involvement in the FBI’s Russia investigation, he was unaware of the ongoing misbehavior at the highest levels of law enforcement.
“You came into a profoundly politicized world [at DOJ], and yet all of this was allowed to go forward under your leadership. That unfortunately only leads to two possible conclusions,” Cruz said. “Either you were complicit in the wrongdoing, which I don’t believe is the case, or that the performance of your duties was grossly negligent.”
In getting to the bottom of Rosenstein’s alleged negligence to the crimes committed at the highest levels of law enforcement under his watch, Cruz asked, “Was there any more important case the Department of Justice had than an investigation into whether the president of the United States is a Russian asset colluding against the United States?”
“There was certainly lots of important investigations, but I viewed this as one of the most important,” Rosenstein said.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 3, 2020
Rosenstein’s involvement at the top of the Department of Justice included appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel and signing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant renewals based off fraudulent material, but he testified Wednesday he was unaware at the time of much of the wrongdoing he signed off on.
“At the time you read the FISA application, did you know the primary source behind the Steele dossier had disavowed it and said it’s not true?” Cruz asked.
“At the time I reviewed it, no I did not know that,” Rosenstein said.
“Did you know there was significant exculpatory evidence omitted from it?” Cruz asked.
“Absolutely not,” Rosenstein said.
“Did you know a lawyer on your staff had fraudulently altered material as a basis for a FISA application?” Cruz asked.
“That lawyer was not on my staff, but I was not aware of it,” Rosenstein said.
When questioned by committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Wednesday, Rosenstein testified he would not have signed off on FISA warrants against Carter Page had he known about the misconduct surrounding those warrants.
“If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application?” Graham asked.
“No, I would not,” Rosenstein said.
In May 2017, Rosenstein signed a “scope memo” authorizing the extent to which Mueller was allowed to probe “coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” But only recently has a new unredacted version of the “scope memo” been released, revealing that Rosenstein authorized a probe into the Trump team that extended beyond general Russian interference efforts, including an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.