Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, questioned former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a June 3 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation: Day 1,” on the first day of hearings to investigate Crossfire Hurricane, an FBI-authorized investigation into links between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian officials.
In December 2019, the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice completed an investigation into whether the Crossfire Hurricane investigation had an adequate factual and legal predicate. During Coons’ questioning, Rosenstein agreed with Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s finding that the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane which was grounded in protecting national security by investigating federal crimes.
“I agree with Inspector Horowitz's conclusion,” said Rosenstein.
The Crossfire Hurricane and later investigations ultimately resulted in multiple convictions. Coons noted that “the president’s campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, national security adviser, foreign policy adviser, personal attorney and longtime political strategist were all either convicted of crimes or pled guilty in federal court.” Rosenstein, in his role as acting attorney general noted, “I was not aware of any reason to question the appropriateness [of the investigation and prosecution of Michael Flynn] at that time.”
The hearing comes weeks after pressure from Trump for Senate Republicans to investigate “Obamagate.”
Coons stated, “repeated efforts by members of this committee, by journalists to get any clarity or definition about what Obamagate is have come up without any clarity.” When asked if he was aware of any evidence that former President Obama has committed any federal crime, Rosenstein said, “I am not.”
In light of these events, Coons again questioned the ongoing influence of the president over the Department of Justice. Coons asked, “Do you think a president should publicly criticize, question or attack ongoing Department of Justice investigations?”
Rosenstein responded, “I'm not going to comment on the president.”
Coons concluded by noting that this investigation was a poor use of committee time amid three ongoing national crises.
“I too am questioning the scope and the reach of the dedication of time of this committee to reinvestigate what I think Inspector General Horwitz has thoroughly investigated,” said Coons. “We are in the middle of three simultaneous national crises: a public health epidemic, an economic sharp, short downturn and understandable nationwide protests inflamed by anger at the brutal and public killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. There are many other pressing issues that I hope this committee will soon turn to.”
Audio and video are available at bit.ly/3gWoVBs.