WASHINGTON — Some members of the House Freedom Caucus introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today, charging that the Justice Department official has withheld investigative information from GOPs in Congress, failed to comply with congressional subpoenas and abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The impeachment documents may not even come to the House floor for a vote, though. They were introduced by Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and current Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), along with nine other members.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was not among the co-sponsors. Ten days ago, he was asked on CBS if he would be on board the effort. “No. For what? Impeach him for what? No,” Gowdy replied.
If the proposal cleared the House, it would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate for Rosenstein to lose his job. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) already cast his vote, tweeting this evening, “This Senate Republican does not agree.”
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the idea “pretty far-fetched and probably not worthy of comment.”
But since the documents were introduced just before House lawmakers are getting ready to leave for the five-week summer recess, they may simply serve as a warning to the deputy attorney general or as a gauge of public support for the move heading toward midterms. Meadows did not use a procedural move that could have forced a vote this week.
“The DOJ is keeping information from Congress. Enough is enough. It’s time to hold Mr. Rosenstein accountable for blocking Congress’s constitutional oversight role,” Jordan said in a statement.
“With Attorney General Sessions’ recusal, Rod Rosenstein has been in charge of the Department of Justice as the agency has made every effort to obstruct legitimate attempts of congressional oversight,” Meadows said. “The stonewalling over this last year has been just as bad or worse than under the Obama administration. Multiple times we’ve caught DOJ officials hiding information from Congress, withholding relevant documents, or even outright ignoring Congressional subpoenas — and now we have evidence that Mr. Rosenstein signed off on a document using unverified political opposition research as a cornerstone of a FISA application to spy on an American citizen working for the Trump campaign.”
“This level of conduct, paired with the failure to even feign an interest in transparency, is reprehensible. And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, this kind of obstruction is wrong — period,” he added. “For 9 months we’ve warned them consequences were coming, and for 9 months we’ve heard the same excuses backed up by the same unacceptable conduct. Time is up and the consequences are here. It’s time to find a new deputy attorney general who is serious about accountability and transparency.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has long dismissed the idea of trying to impeach Rosenstein and has said the document disagreements with the DOJ are being resolved. More will be learned about Ryan’s thoughts at his weekly press conference Thursday.
The Justice Department has argued that some of the documents House conservatives want to see — such as the unredacted Rosenstein memo detailing the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — should not be released during an ongoing investigation because of potential harm to the probe.
Ranking Members Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) of the House Judiciary Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) of the Oversight Committee and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of the House Intelligence Committee issued a joint statement declaring the resolution “a direct attack on the special counsel’s investigation — full stop.”
“It is a panicked and dangerous attempt to undermine an ongoing criminal investigation in an effort to protect President Trump as the walls are closing in around him and his associates,” they said. “It is certainly not, as its sponsors claim, a principled attempt to conduct oversight of the Department of Justice, because House Republicans have refused to conduct oversight of any aspect of the Trump administration, except where the inquiry might distract from their failed agenda, undermine law enforcement, and serve the interests of President Trump.”