Devin Nunes and Republican House staffers are attacking Rod Rosenstein and claiming that he threatened them in front of the FBI Director. But their claims are dubious at best.
On Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported,
“House Republicans are expanding their attacks on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, making the suspect claim this week that the Republican law enforcement veteran ― in the presence of the FBI director and other Justice Department officials ― threatened Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers during a meeting in January after they discussed the possibility of holding Rosenstein in contempt of Congress.”
It’s worth noting that these are all Republicans attacking other Republicans.
Devin Nunes and other Trump defenders in Congress are trying to make the claim that Rod Rosenstein, a life-long conservative who joined the DOJ in 1990, abused the power of his office in January, when he threatened Republican House staffers in a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and other top DOJ officials.
Fox News ran with this story all night on Tuesday, claiming that Rosenstein threatened the staffers with subpoenas of their records. According to Fox, Rosenstein’s threats were “downright chilling.”
Nunes, who was also at this meeting, is now fundraising off of his defense of Trump. He’s bragging to donors that Trump tweeted that he was a “Great American Hero.” It’s curious why Nunes would go out to dinner with Rosenstein on the evening after he made the supposed threats to Nunes’ staff — yes, he really did.
But the biggest problem with the claims being made by Nunes and Fox is that the DOJ says it simply isn’t true.
“The FBI disagrees with a number of characterizations of the meeting as described in the excerpts of a staffer’s emails provided to us by Fox News,” an FBI official said in a statement issued to HuffPost.
“The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,” a Justice Department official said in a statement. The DOJ officials present for the meeting ― FBI Director Wray, Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools (a career DOJ official) and Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd ― “are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false,” the official said.
“The Deputy Attorney General was making the point — after being threatened with contempt — that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false. That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so,” the DOJ official said.
Former FBI official Greg Brower was also in that meeting. He said that he “can’t make any sense” of the staffers’ claims. “Certainly the deputy attorney general didn’t threaten anyone,” he said.
The DOJ did say, however, that Rosenstein will be requesting that the House General Counsel open an investigation into the conduct of congressional staffers.
Fox News pounded the story of Rosenstein threatening staffers throughout the night on Tuesday. But when Tucker Carlson grilled Jeff Sessions about it, the Attorney General said that he was “confident” that Rosenstein didn’t threaten anyone.