Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attends a briefing at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. (AP)
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team over the summer, sources familiar with the investigation tell Fox News.
The questioning is a sign that Mueller’s team is looking into the firing of former FBI Director James Comey earlier this year -- as Rosenstein wrote a memo the White House cited, in part, as the reasoning for Comey’s removal.
Mueller's team of investigators also reports to Rosenstein, who has overseen the Justice Department's Russia investigation following the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
At this point, Rosenstein seems to have no plans to follow Sessions in recusing himself. Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement, “As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed.”
The fact that Mueller's team would speak with Rosenstein is not necessarily surprising given his direct involvement in Trump administration conversations that preceded the May 9 ouster and the evolving White House explanations of it.
But the questioning is nonetheless an indication of investigators' continued interest in the circumstances surrounding Comey's ouster, and whether it constituted an effort to obstruct an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller's team of investigators is expected to interview current and former White House aides in coming weeks as part of that investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel one week after Comey's firing, and one day after it was revealed that Comey had alleged in an internal memo that President Trump had asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The White House initially explained Comey's firing by saying Trump was acting on the recommendation of Rosenstein, who wrote a scathing memo about Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
But that narrative was muddled days later when Trump, in a television interview, said he would have fired Comey regardless of the Justice Department's recommendation. It was revealed earlier this month that Trump and aide Stephen Miller had drafted, but not sent, an earlier memo that sought to justify Comey's firing. That document is now in Mueller's possession.
Rosenstein has said he stands by the memo and his assessment that Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation by publicly announcing the FBI's findings instead of ceding that authority to the Justice Department. But he has also said he did not intend for his memo to be used as a justification for firing.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source : http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/20/rod-rosenstein-interviewed-by-mueller-team-sources-say.html