Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein took an apparent shot at former FBI Director James Comey on Twitter Thursday and derided commentators from CNN and MSNBC following the release of the Justice Department inspector general's report.
While Rosenstein didn't explicitly mention Comey, his initial tweet quoted a letter in which he cautioned against violating Justice Department policy because of short-term circumstances.
"It is important for the Department of Justice to follow established policies and procedures, especially when the stakes are high," Rosenstein wrote.
In the preceding paragraph, he mentioned that Comey seemed to argue that circumstances justified both his disclosures about the Russia investigation and his 2016 letter about the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails.
"It may seem tempting to depart from Department policies and traditions in an effort to deflect short-term criticism, but such deviations ultimately may cause a loss of public confidence in the even-handed administration of justice," Rosenstein added. "We should be most on guard when we believe that our own uncomfortable present circumstances justify ignoring timeless principles respected by our predecessors."
Rosenstein's tweet came as Comey responded to a critical Inspector General report by highlighting its conclusion that he didn't leak any classified information -- despite the fact that the report also blasted his decision to violate FBI policies.
CNN Legal Analyst Renato Mariotti responded to Rosenstein by accusing him of a double standard, arguing that the deputy failed to call out Attorney General William Barr.
"You speak up about Comey failing to 'follow established policies and procedures' but stood silently beside Barr when he misled the public about Trump," Mariotti said, apparently referring to Barr's decision to summarize former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation.
Mariotti also criticized the president, accusing Trump of using "his power to try to quash investigations of him and his friends."
Rosenstein responded to Mariotti by saying: "Notice how this pundit completely misses the point and thereby illustrates it."
The former deputy attorney general also called out MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller, who criticized the inspector general's claim that Comey set a dangerous precedent by ignoring FBI policy.
"Asinine. Comey did what he did because the president was actively trying to dismantle DOJ's normal way of operating," Miller tweeted.
"The AG [Jeff Sessions] and the DAG [Rosenstein] were both complicit, so Comey had no where [sic] else to take his concerns," Miller added.
Rosenstein responded by linking to Miller's own Washington Post op-ed which blasted Comey's "abuse of power" in the Clinton email investigation.
"Another pundit illustrates my point: In 2016, he agreed policy violations 'should trouble anyone who believes in the rule of law and fundamental principles of fairness' Rosenstein tweeted. "Many employees dislike supervisors, but most keep faith with government institutions."