Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has spoken publicly for the first time since the release of the Mueller report, defending his role in the investigation and slamming “critical decisions” that had been made before he was confirmed.
Specifically calling out the Obama administration, Rosenstein said at an Armenian Bar Association dinner Thursday that they “chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America,” adding that the FBI also provided classified evidence to lawmakers that was, in turn, “selectively leaked” to the news media.
“The bottom line is, there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens,” Rosenstein said, “and that is only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine America, just like they do in many other countries.”
Responding to his detractors, Rosenstein claimed not only to have upheld his promise to “do it right” and “take it to the appropriate conclusion,” but also to have delivered impartial results.
Rosenstein noted that at his confirmation hearing, he had never promised to publicize the results of the eventual report.
“Grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings,” Rosenstein said. “It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.”
Rosenstein told the audience that following the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation, the U.S. is “safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes.”
While Rosenstein also highlighted that not everybody was happy with his decision to appoint Mueller, he stood by his approach.
“You just need to accept that politicians need to evaluate everything in terms of the immediate political impact,” he said.
Rosenstein, who originally planned to leave the Department of Justice in mid-march, now says he will leave next month.