Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein strikes back at James Comey, calling him 'partisan pundit'
The Baltimore Sun
Rod Rosenstein, in his first day of public appearances since ending a stormy tenure as U.S. deputy attorney general, defended his role in President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of former FBI director James Comey, whom he called a “partisan pundit.”
Rosenstein’s speech Monday night at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting came after Comey — a sharp critic of Trump’s — recently criticized Rosenstein in a New York Times Op-Ed for giving a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law. Trump, Comey wrote, “eats your soul in small bites.”
Rosenstein struck back Monday night.
“Now the former director seems to be acting as a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul,” Rosenstein said at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. “I kid you not. That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Generally we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony."
Rosenstein also criticized Comey for his handling of an investigation into a private email server used by Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Rosenstein said Comey “chose to send a letter to the Congress on the eve of the election stating that one of the presidential candidates was under criminal investigation, expecting that letter to be released immediately to the public. Those actions in my view were not within the realm of reasonable decisions."
Comey, who has delivered speeches around the country — including in Baltimore — about his tenure, has said he faced a difficult decision in effectively going public with the Clinton email investigation. But he has said he doesn’t second-guess his decision.
In his speech, Rosenstein said he was determined to protect the independence of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russan interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Comey was fired in May 2017. In doing so, the White House pointed to a memo by Rosenstein in which he criticized the director's handling of the investigation of Clinton's email server.
Rosenstein said critics believed the ouster was part of an effort to derail the Russia investigation.
But Rosenstein told the business executives and dignitaries Monday night: “I was responsible for that investigation. I would never allow anyone to interfere with that investigation.”