Rod Rosenstein, the former Deputy Attorney General defended his decision to make Robert Mueller the special counsel on the Russia investigation on Wednesday, as well as his decision to approve applications for surveillance warrants with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Rosenstien made the statements while testifying before the Judiciary Committee which has GOP members looking into the Russia investigation of the 2016 election along with the Trump Campaign, reports NBC.
Rosenstein said he appointed Mueller to the Russia investigation after Jeff Sessions recused himself due to concerns that, “the public would not have confidence in the investigation and that the acting FBI director was not the right person to lead it.”
“I decided that appointing a special counsel was the best way to complete the investigation appropriately and promote public confidence in its conclusions," Rosenstein said. "As we now know, the eventual conclusions were that Russians committed crimes seeking to influence the election and Americans did not conspire with them."
Andrew McCabe was the acting FBI director at that time and Rosenstein said he was “not fully candid” and “certainly wasn’t forthcoming,” when it came to the Russian probe.
McCabe gave a response in a statement saying that Rosenstein’s “claims to have been misled by me, or anyone from the FBI, regarding our concerns about President Trump and the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia are completely false. Mr. Rosenstein approved of, and suggested ways to enhance, our investigation of the President. Further, I personally briefed Mr. Rosenstein on Jim Comey’s memos describing his interactions with the President mere days after Mr. Rosenstein wrote the memo firing Jim Comey."
Rosenstein defended his singing of the FISA applications in his testimony as well.
“Every application that I approved appeared to be justified based on the facts it alleged, and the FBI was supposed to be following protocols to ensure that every fact was verified,” Rosenstein said to lawmakers.
He then acknowledged findings from March and last December’s investigative reviews, which he said “revealed that the FBI was not following the written protocols, and that 'significant errors' appeared in applications filed in connection with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
Rosenstein said he would not have approved the FISA warrant application if he knew what he knows now.
Rosenstein noted that he agreed the FISA warrant applications 17 errors did not undermine the Russia investigation. He agreed that the FBI errors also did not undermine assessments that the 2016 election was interfered with by Russia.
Roseman said the Department of Justice “must take remedial action” when prosecutors and agents “make serious mistakes or engage in misconduct.”
“While it is necessary to correct mistakes and punish wrongdoers, it should not go unsaid today that our law enforcement agencies are filled with men and women who act with integrity,” Rosenstein said. “As we watch them deal with extraordinarily difficult challenges throughout the country, we should take this opportunity to let them know that they have our appreciation and support.”