The ever-intensifying skirmishes between Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and conservative House Republicans broke into an ugly public fight on Thursday. On the House floor, Republicans voted to give the Justice Department seven days to produce sensitive documents related to the Russia inquiry and the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email use, the New York Times reports. The measure was intended to put Rosenstein on notice that House lawmakers were willing to take punitive action — including impeachment — if their demands were not met. In the House Judiciary Committee, conservative Republicans hauled Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray, before television cameras to accuse them of hiding information from Congress to protect their own interests. In Rosenstein’s case, some Republicans charged outright misconduct related to the investigation into Russian election interference.
The two leaders, both appointed by President Trump, defended the special counsel investigation and their response to congressional investigators, even as they said they are deeply troubled by the findings of a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case. “There are mechanisms to resolve this without threatening to hold people in contempt,” Rosenstein said, urging lawmakers to work with him rather than threaten him. “We are not in contempt of this Congress. We are not going to be.” Democrats accused Republicans of concocting a political distraction to bloody the reputation of the Justice Department as it investigates President Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia. Thursday’s hearing was called to allow the law enforcement officials to field questions about the report from DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz. In the hearing room, Republicans advanced a wide range of topics, including largely unsubstantiated charges against Rosenstein and the special counsel investigation he oversees. One by one, the deputy attorney general sought to dispel them.