Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein responded defiantly Tuesday to the news that Republicans in Congress were drafting articles of impeachment against him.
"Department of Justice is not going to be extorted."
Rosenstein was speaking at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. when he was asked to address the articles of impeachment drawn up by Republicans against him.
"They can't even resist leaking their own drafts!" he joked.
"I saw that draft, I mean, I don't know who wrote it," he continued, "it really does illustrate though, a really important principle about the rule of law."
"The distinction between the way we operate in the Department [of Justice]," he explained, "and we make mistakes, that's not to say we're flawless, but the way we operate in the Department of Justice, if we can accuse somebody of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence and credible witnesses, we need to be prepared to prove our case in court, and we have to affix our signature to the charging document, and that's something that not everybody appreciates."
Private and public threats
"There are people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted," he responded.
"We're going to do what's required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not gonna effect the way we do our job. We have a responsibility," he concluded. "And we take an oath, that's the whole point."
Here's the video of Rosenstein's comments:
Critics of the president, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have vocally warned the president that if he tries to fire Rosenstein in order to replace him with someone who would rein in special counsel Robert Mueller that he would face dire consequences.
“If the president fires special counsel Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” Pelosi warned in April, “it will ignite a constitutional crisis.”
“The firing of Rosenstein should be viewed by the public as the curtailing of the investigation," she added, "effectively firing Mueller to do the job he’s there to do.”
Rosenstein has been in the hot seat since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigations, an act that has angered Trump greatly. This left the deputy attorney general to supervise the special counsel probe into Russian interference and alleged collusion.