Rosenstein Defends Mueller Probe, DOJ Priorities

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tells USA Today that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is “not an unguided missile” and says the Justice Department is “restoring” the authority of federal prosecutors to bring down the U.S. homicide rate.

Despite unrelenting criticism from the White House on the course of the investigation into Russia’s election interference, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered unqualified support for special counsel Robert Mueller. “The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” Rosenstein told USA Today. “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.” The deputy attorney general, who oversees the special counsel, appointed Mueller last May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of his prior contacts with Russia Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Rosenstein estimated that less than 5 peercent of his week is related to briefings or other matters involving Mueller’s investigation. He dismissed the near-constant and pointed criticism aimed at the Justice Department from the White House and from an ultra-conservative Tea Party Patriots group. The group has run an ugly ad campaign, describing Rosenstein as “a weak careerist” and suggesting that he tender his own resignation. “I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice,” said Rosenstein. He said the department was responding to the priorities laid out by the president, while “restoring” the authority of federal prosecutors and other law enforcement officials to bring homicides down across the country after two years of increases. Rosenstein also referred to the DOJ effort against the scourge of opioid addiction, with Justice pledging to pursue manufacturers. “Most of the work goes unheralded and un-criticized,” he said, adding that his work is focused in “implementing the priorities of the president and the attorney general.”