Longtime federal prosecutor Rod Rosenstein is facing questions today from the Senate Judiciary Committee about a federal investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election as he appears for a confirmation hearing for the role of deputy attorney general, the Associated Press reports. The number two person at the Justice Department handles day-to-day business of DOJ and its law enforcement agencies. Much of the questioning is likely to focus on a commitment by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week to recuse himself from any investigation involving the Donald Trump campaign. The recusal came after revelations of two previously undisclosed contacts Sessions had last year with the Russian ambassador to the United States. That would leave such a probe in the hands of Rosenstein, if he’s confirmed.
Under initial questioning, Rosenstein would not commit to recusing himself. Some Democrats are demanding that the matter be turned over to a special prosecutor. “I will use every possible tool to block the nomination of Rod Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General unless he commits to appoint an independent special prosecutor,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a Judiciary Committee member. Appearing today on CNN, Blumenthal said he would confront Rosenstein about whether he’d be willing to seek a special prosecutor. “I’m going to put it to him very directly that he has an obligation as the deputy, that only he can do it,” the senator said, “so it falls to him.”