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Rosenstein to Face Senate GOP in Probe 06/03 06:40

   Senate Republicans are planning to press former Deputy Attorney General Rod 
Rosenstein on his oversight of the Russia investigation in the first in a 
series of oversight hearings that coincide with accelerated election-year 
efforts to scrutinize the FBI probe.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republicans are planning to press former Deputy 
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on his oversight of the Russia investigation in 
the first in a series of oversight hearings that coincide with accelerated 
election-year efforts to scrutinize the FBI probe.

   Rosenstein's appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee 
comes as allies of President Donald Trump take fresh aim at the investigation 
into ties between Russia and his 2016 campaign. They have pointed to newly 
declassified information to allege Trump and his associates were unfairly 
pursued and have drawn vindication from the Justice Department's decision to 
drop its case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

   The hearing, called by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, is also an effort by 
Republicans to refocus public attention on the Russia investigation at a time 
when Trump himself is facing public scrutiny over his handling of the 
coronavirus pandemic and unrest in American cities set off by the death of 
George Floyd.

   Though a Trump appointee, Rosenstein has often been regarded with suspicion 
by many supporters of the president, and the president himself, for his role in 
the Russia investigation. His fate was most dramatically in limbo in September 
2018 after it was revealed that he had floated the idea of wearing a wire 
inside the White House to record conversations with Trump, something he'll 
almost certainly be asked about Wednesday.

   Soon after assuming oversight of the Russia investigation after 
then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, Rosenstein appointed 
former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel and then spent most of 
the next two years supervising his work, including approving key decisions, 
testifying in his defense and announcing criminal charges against Russians.

   Mueller's report last year detailed significant contacts between Russia and 
the Trump campaign but did not allege a criminal conspiracy to sway the 
election. It examined about a dozen episodes for potential obstruction of 
justice by Trump, but did not reach a conclusion as to whether he broke the 
law, in part because Justice Department policy bars against the indictment of 
sitting presidents.

   Allies of the president in the last year have moved aggressively to rewrite 
the narrative of the Russia investigation, particularly after a Justice 
Department inspector general report from last December that identified 
significant errors and omissions in FBI applications to eavesdrop on a former 
Trump campaign aide.

   Rosenstein approved one of those applications, and is expected to be pressed 
on that decision Wednesday even though the inspector general report said senior 
Justice Department officials were given incomplete information by the FBI.

   He is also likely to be asked about his oversight of the guilty plea with 
Flynn, who admitted lying to the FBI about his conversations on sanctions with 
the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period.

   The Justice Department moved to dismiss the case last month, saying Flynn's 
contacts with the diplomat were entirely appropriate and that the FBI had 
insufficient basis to interview him.

   Graham has also questioned whether Mueller should have been appointed at all.

 
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