(CNSNews.com) - Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that since he wasn't working for the Justice Department on July 31, 2016 when the FBI launched its Trump-Russia investigation, he only knows what he's been told by the FBI.
"Did any investigative activity regarding the Trump campaign and Russia occur before July 31, 2016?" Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked Rosenstein.
"Congressman, as you know, we are dealing with the intelligence committee on that issue -- and Chairman Nunes, with Director Wray and me," Rosenstein said. "I received the same briefing that he received, so I don't know any additional information beyond what he knows about that. And I'm not able to produce any information beyond what the FBI has told me. So--"
"Are you aware, as you sit here today, of any payments that were made to any person to collect intelligence on the Trump campaign prior to July 31, 2016?" Gaetz asked Rosenstein.
"No, keep in mind, I wasn't there," Rosenstein responded. "I only know what information that we've obtained from the FBI records."
"Are you, as you sit here today, aware of any efforts to contact Roger Stone that occurred prior to July 31, 2016?" Gaetz asked.
"I don't have any personal knowledge, Congressman, but I know that we are seeking to respond to Chairman Nunes' request. I think one thing you need to--"
"How about the same question as it regards Michael Caputo?" Gaetz interrupted.
"I wasn't there, so I can only answer questions that we direct to the FBI--" Rosenstein started to say.
"You're there now, right?" Gaetz interrupted. "Have you asked these questions of anyone?"
"We have absolutely conveyed all the questions Chairman Nunes has raised, and I'm optmistic that we'll be able to respond to him fairly soon," Rosenstein said.
Gaetz was not satisfied: "You can understand why it would be of tremendous importance to the country if the Department of Justice has represented to a court that this investigation began on July 31st, and if the fact that you cannot tell me definitively that before July 31st there was not intelligence collected on the Trump campaign, that that is something of great interest to us."
"Congressman, I think you should understand that there is nobody more committed to rooting out abuse and misconduct than I," Rosenstein said. "We talk with the FBI, we take those allegations seriously, and we look to find any credible evidence, and if we find it, we're going to produce it to Chairman Nunes."