Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein blasted the Obama administration's handling of the Russia investigation, rebuked the mainstream media's coverage of the investigation, and defended his role in the probe on Thursday, the first time Rosenstein has spoken publicly about the investigation since the release of the Mueller report last week.
Rosenstein oversaw the investigation after Jeff Sessions, who was attorney general at the time, recused himself from all investigations relating to the 2016 presidential election.
What did Rosenstein say?
According to the New York Times, Rosenstein both castigated the Obama administration for not being honest with the American people about the scope of Russian election interference, while scolding the FBI and Congress, including former FBI Director James Comey, for selectively leaking classified information related to the investigation.
"Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there," Rosenstein said. "The previous administration 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."
"The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI director alleged that the president pressured him to close the investigation, and the president denied that the conversation occurred," Rosenstein explained.
"So that happened," he said mockingly.
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Indeed, the Obama administration has been heavily criticized for its response to Russian election interference.
In fact, NBC reported in Dec. 2016 that high-level administration officials opted not to respond forcefully to Russian meddling because then-President Barack Obama did not want his administration to appear it was interfering in the election.
NBC also reported the administration acted slowly because officials believed Hillary Clinton would win the election.
What else did Rosenstein say?
He also defended his actions in the investigation.
"At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican senator asked me to make a commitment," Rosenstein said. "He said: 'You're going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you'll do it right, that you'll take it to its conclusion and you'll report [your results] to the American people.'"
"I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion. I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges," he recalled.
As Fox News reported, Rosenstein also blasted "mercenary critics" who "express passionate opinions about any topic, often with little or no information. They do not just express disagreement. They launch ad hominem attacks unrestricted by truth or morality. They make threats, spread fake stories and even attack your relatives."
"Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper it was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it," he went on to say, according to Politico.
Rosenstein's comments came while speaking in New York Thursday night at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association.