(CNSNews.com) - Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that he’s not keeping information from Congress despite not handing yet over all FBI and DOJ documents about the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation.
Under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rosenstein also denied threatening to subpoena the emails and phone calls of House Intelligence Committee staffers.
JORDAN: Mr. Rosenstein, why are you keeping information from Congress?
ROSENSTEIN: Actually, I’m not keeping any information from Congress that it’s appropriate--
JORDAN: In a few minutes Mr. Rosenstein, I think the House of Representatives is gonna say something different.
ROSENSTEIN: I don’t agree with you, Congressman. I don’t believe that’s what they’re going to say, and if they do, they’ll be mistaken.
JORDAN: I disagree but I think in a few minutes the House of Representatives is going to go on record in saying you haven’t complied with requests from a separate and equal branch of government, that you haven’t complied with subpoenas, and you got seven days to get your act together. I think that’s what’s going to happen in a few-- and that’s not Jim Jordan. I think that’s the majority of the House of Representatives in a few minutes, I think that’s what’s going to happen, and I want to know why you won’t give us what we’ve asked for.
ROSENSTEIN: Sir, I certainly hope that your colleagues are not under that impression. That is not accurate, sir--
JORDAN: It is accurate. We have caught you hiding information.
Their exchange was repeatedly interrupted by Democrats on the committee, before Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) redirected questioning back to Jordan.
JORDAN: Let me make this one point, and then I’ll let you answer. Let me make this one point. Well we’ve caught you hiding information. Then you can answer. Why did you hide the fact that Peter Strzok and Judge Contreras were friends? Why did you redact that in the documents you gave to us. Judge Contreras is kind of important - FISA court judge, more importantly, just as importantly, the judge that heard Mike Flynn’s case. Why’d you hide try to hide that from us?
ROSENSTEIN: I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to respond. I’ve heard you make those sort of allegations publicly on TV, and if you’d let me respond, sir. I am the deputy attorney general of the United States, okay? I’m not the person doing the redacting. I’m responsible for responding to your concerns as I have. I have a team with me, sir. It’s just a fraction of the team that’s doing this work, and whenever you brought issues to my attention, I have taken appropriate steps to remedy them, so your statement that I am personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information--
JORDAN: You’re the boss, Mr. Rosenstein.
ROSENSTEIN: That’s correct, and my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. We have, sir, and I’ve appointed Mr. Loesch, who is managing that production, and my understanding is it’s actually going very well, sir, so I appreciate your concern.
JORDAN: Again, I think the House of Representatives is gonna say otherwise.
ROSENSTEIN: But your use of this to attack me personally--
After another Democrat interrupted, Jordan asked why Rosenstein told FBI agent Peter Strzok not to answer the committee’s questions in a closed-door hearing.
JORDAN: I appreciate your service. It’s not personal. We just want the information. Why did you tell Peter Strzok not to answer our questions yesterday? When asked Peter Strzok if he’d ever communicated with Glenn Simpson, he gave us the answer he answered dozens of times - ‘On advice of FBI counsel, I can’t answer that question.’ Why couldn’t he answer that question?
ROSENSTEIN: Mr. Jordan, I appreciate your sincere concerns, but I didn’t give Peter Strzok any instructions. If there was some problem with the instructions he had, I’ll be happy to look into it. When you find some problem with a production or with questions, it doesn’t mean I’m personally trying to conceal something from you. It means we’re running an organization that’s trying to follow the rules, and we’re gonna respond--
JORDAN: What was interesting, when I asked him if he’d ever talked to Bruce Orr, he said he had. He said he had three times in 2016 and 2017. Then I asked him have you ever talked to Nellie Orr, and he said no I haven’t. Well why can’t you answer that question - because Nellie Orr worked for Glen Simpson, worked for Fusion. He could answer that question, but he couldn’t answer, because FBI counsel told him he couldn’t. He couldn’t answer whether the question whether he’d ever communicated with Glenn Simpson, a journalist. Why couldn’t he answer that question?
ROSENSTEIN: Mr. Jordan, I appreciate your saying it isn’t personal. Sometimes it feels that way. How do I know, sir. You interviewed Mr. Strzok. I didn’t, so I can’t answer.
JORDAN: Works for you. Doesn’t work for us.
ROSENSTEIN: 115,000 people work for me, sir.
JORDAN: Mr. Rosenstein, did you threaten staffers on the House Intelligence Committee? Media reports indicate you did.
ROSENSTEIN: Media reports are mistaken.
JORDAN: Sometimes, but this is what they said: ‘Having the nation’s number one law enforcement officer threaten to subpoena your calls and emails is downright chilling.’ Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and emails?
ROSENSTEIN: No, sir, and there’s no way to subpoena phone calls.
JORDAN: Well I mean, I’m just saying. I’m reading what the press said.
ROSENSTEIN: I would suggest that you not rely on what the press says, sir.
JORDAN: Well, I didn’t ask if there’s no way to do it. I asked if you said it.
ROSENSTEIN: If I said what?
JORDAN: What I just read to you.
ROSENSTEIN: No, I did not.
JORDAN: Now who are we supposed to believe - staff members whom we’ve worked with, who’ve never misled us, or you guys, who we’ve caught hiding information from us, who tell a witness not to answer our questions? Who are we supposed to believe?
ROSENSTEIN: Thank you for making clear it’s not personal, Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: I’m saying the Department of Justice--
ROSENSTEIN: You should believe me, because I’m telling the truth, and I’m under oath, and if you want to put somebody else under oath and they have something different to say--
JORDAN: I know these staff members. Here’s my last question. What’s so important that you know that you don’t want us to know that you won’t give us the documents we’re asking for that the House of Representatives is about to go on record saying you should give us? What’s so darn important that you will threaten members, at least according to media reports and according to the staff members? What is so important Mr. Rosenstein?
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) interrupted. Gowdy wrapped up his questioning by demanding the information that Congress has been requesting regarding the investigation.
GOWDY: Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Ray, I do appreciate your work, but I’d also appreciate if the House of Representatives could get the information we have repeatedly-- Mr. Gowdy talked about how long this investigation’s going on, how long there’s been a special counsel. We started asking for information in July of last year, and some of that still has not been given to the Congress, still has not been given to the committee, the committee charged with defending the Judiciary Committee. So I appreciate what you do. I just want the information, and we’re so frustrated that there is now a resolution on the floor of the House in just a few minutes that will be voted on.
ROSENSTEIN: I don’t have any control over what resolutions you vote on, sir, and you’re free to do that. If you’re interested in the truth, Mr. Jordan, the truth is we have a team of folks. They’re Trump appointees and career folks, and they’re doing their best to produce these documents. Director, I explained to you the process. He’s got hundreds of people working around the clock, trying to satisfy these requests, so whether you vote or not is not going to affect it. You’re going to get everything that’s relevant, that we can find and produce to you. I support this report, sir. I’m not trying to hide anything from you.
As CNSNews.com reported, the House on Thursday passed a resolution requesting that the DOJ end its “non-compliance” with the subpoenas and document requests and turn them over by July 6.