Americans will one day be proud of how the Justice Department conducted itself in the era of President Trump and Mr. Trump himself deserves much of that credit, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Monday.
In a speech before the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Mr. Rosenstein said history will be kind to this time in the Justice Department’s history. But it was not clear if he was talking about how the department is handling special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe or about other department business.
“I’m very confident that when we look back on this era of the Department of Justice in the long run, we’ll be proud of the way the department conducted itself, and the president will deserve credit for the folks he appointed,” Mr. Rosenstein said.
Mr. Rosenstein, who is leaving the department next month, landed in hot water with Mr. Trump last year when The New York Times reported he discussed secretly recording the president and sought to remove him from office via the 25th Amendment. Those accusations resurfaced earlier this month when they were repeated in media interviews by former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
The No. 2 official at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein has repeatedly denied the charge.
Mr. Rosenstein on Monday also assured Americans they should be confident that new Attorney General William P. Barr will make an appropriate decision whether to release Mr. Mueller’s final conclusions.
“That’s going to be a decision the attorney general makes as to what to do with whatever information is provided to him,” he said. “I think Attorney General Barr is going to make the right decision. You can trust him to do this … I think we can count on him to do the right thing.”
Mr. Rosenstein did not offer any details on when the Mueller report could be released or what Mr. Barr will do with the special counsel’s findings.
During a question-and-answer session, Mr. Rosenstein repeatedly cautioned leveling accusations against individuals who have not been charged with crimes. He said a “knee-jerk reaction” complicates already complex cases, although he did not specifically refer to the Mueller probe.
“If we aren’t prepared to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt in court, then we have no business making allegations against American citizens,” he said.
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