Conservative members of the U.S House of Representatives introduced articles of impeachment on Wednesday against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein oversees special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The representatives argue that the Department of Justice has failed to provide documents and other disclosures demanded by the House.
The articles build on some members’ stance that the basis for a special-court warrant to track Carter Page, a onetime Trump campaign advisor, was illegitimate, despite the recent disclosure of a declassified version of the application to the FISA court. They say that Rosenstein has a conflict of interest by having both been involved in that application and overseeing Mueller’s efforts. Further, they claim that the DOJ has withheld documents and us ignoring Congressional subpoenas.
The move will likely never reach a vote, despite its championing by Reps. Mark Meadow, Jim Jordan, and nine others from the so-called Freedom Caucus—all strong allies of President Donald Trump. There’s little interest from other conservatives. Neither the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, nor Trey Gowdy, head of the House Oversight Committee, signed on to the impeachment effort. Nor did House Speaker Paul Ryan.
A broader swath of Republicans have criticized Rosenstein’s appointment of the special counsel from nearly the moment it occurred. As Mueller has issued subpoenas and indictments, and secured guilty pleas and convictions, the chorus has become more rousing. Some GOP members, however, want to see the process through to its completion, only more rapidly than it appears to be progressing.
DOJ officials told The Hill that they are well underway in delivering documents the House has requested, despite the unprecedented scale of those requests. The DOJ says it has fulfilled or is close to fulfilling three outstanding subpoenas.
The House group didn’t introduce the measure as “privileged resolution,” which would force a vote within a few days. The House adjourns for a month starting Thursday, and invoking that method would potentially lead to the measure expiring before members return.
No executive branch employee or appointee has faced impeachment since U.S. Secretary of War William W. Belknap in 1876. (He was acquitted.) The last president facing impeachment, Bill Clinton, was also acquitted. Were the articles of impeachment to pass with a majority in the House, the Senate would have to vote with a two-thirds majority to convict after a House-conducted trial.