Grassley holds up Deputy AG nomination until he hears from Comey on Russia

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that he will not permit President Trump’s nomination for deputy attorney general until members of the committee are briefed by FBI Director James Comey on Moscow’s involvement in last year’s election.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, halted the nomination of Rod Rosenstein, a longtime U.S. attorney for Maryland. Rosenstein, the pick for the No. 2 position at the Justice Department, said earlier this month that he was not aware of any requirement that he recuse himself from a federal investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. But he said he was open to appointing a special counsel to look into the matter if he ultimately determined it appropriate.

“Here’s what I’ve done: the Justice Department would like to get their deputy out of committee just as soon as they can,” Grassley told reporters at the Capitol, according to Politico. “I’m not going to schedule a hearing on the deputy attorney general until we get a briefing from Comey.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last week from any investigations touching the Trump campaign following revelations of his undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador. That move means the Russia inquiry would be under Rosenstein's watch.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at Tuesday’s hearing that Rosenstein has “impressive credentials” and she does not question his “integrity.” But she said, “We need steel spines and there is a real danger the Justice Department could become politicized.”

Fox News' Chad Pregram and The Associated Press contributed to this report