The senior Justice Department official at the center of the political storm surrounding James Comey’s firing at the FBI spoke out on the controversy Monday night, dismissing “unsolicited” concerns about his personal reputation and saying his main interest is defending the Constitution.
The Baltimore Sun reported on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s remarks to a Baltimore business group, where he apparently addressed the controversy head-on.
"Many people have offered me unsolicited advice over the past few days about what I should do to promote my personal reputation," Rosenstein reportedly said.
According to the report, he added, "I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing in that oath about my reputation. If you ask me, one of the main problems in Washington, D.C., is everybody is so busy running around trying to protect their reputation instead of protecting the republic, which is what they're supposed to be doing."
Lawmakers are eagerly awaiting Rosenstein’s account of the Comey firing and surrounding circumstances. After last week’s firestorm, Rosenstein is expected to brief all senators in a session this Thursday.
The White House last week cited a scathing memo penned by Rosenstein as justification for Comey’s removal. That memo castigated the former FBI director for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.
But some Democrats accused the White House of using the document as a pretext to remove the man heading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible ties to the Trump campaign. Some Democrats have since called for a special prosecutor, questioning Rosenstein’s objectivity as the official currently overseeing the investigation from the top.
Trump himself also said in an interview last week he was going to fire Comey regardless of any recommendation from his team.
According to the Sun report, Rosenstein told the Baltimore crowd that after a friend texted him to “get out of there,” he responded, “There is no place I would rather be.”
He said the “daily newspapers and endless talk shows are not the verdict of history."