As the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election – and any involvement from the Trump campaign – forges ahead, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found himself on the receiving end of some Republicans’ ire.
“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he had told Fox News. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is spearheading the Russia probe, but Rosenstein, 53, still oversees the federal investigation as deputy attorney general.
Read on for a look at how Rosenstein is connected to the Russia investigation.
What was Rosenstein’s job?
Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate as deputy attorney general in April 2017.
As deputy attorney general, he was responsible for day-to-day operations of the Justice Department and oversaw its agencies, including the FBI.
How was he involved in the Russia investigation?
The appointment came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the probe, and Rosenstein stepped in to oversee the investigation.
At the time, Rosenstein said his decision to appoint a special counsel was “not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”
Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller must consult with Rosenstein when his investigators uncover new evidence that may fall outside his original mandate. Rosenstein then determined whether to allow Mueller to proceed or to assign the matter to another U.S. attorney or part of Justice.
According to a memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, Rosenstein signed at least one FISA surveillance application that targeted Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign.
Did he have something to do with Comey’s firing?
Democrats were critical of Rosenstein after the White House used a memo he'd crafted as a reason to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Politico reported. Rosenstein reportedly drafted the memo after Trump had expressed his desire to fire Comey.
Rosenstein later told lawmakers on Capitol Hill he stood by his memo. He said it was “not a finding of official misconduct” or “a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.”
"Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader,” Rosenstein said.
What has the White House said about him?
As he has continued to deny any wrongdoing, Trump has been critical of the Russia investigation, particularly of Mueller’s handling of it.
In an April 11 tweet, Trump accused Mueller of being “conflicted” – and Rosenstein even more so.
Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain, Gregg Re, Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.