WASHINGTON - Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., warns Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that his reputation as an ‘‘independent, apolitical actor’’ is at risk unless he begins sharing details of the firing of former FBI director James Comey with lawmakers in the coming days.
In a letter being sent Thursday, Schumer asks Rosenstein, who became the second-ranking Justice Department official just last month, detailed questions about his involvement in the ouster of Comey.
‘‘Over the last three decades of your career at the Department of Justice, you have developed a reputation for integrity and impartiality,’’ Schumer wrote to Rosenstein. ‘‘That reputation, along with the personal and public commitments you made to me and other Senators that you would be an independent, apolitical actor as Deputy Attorney General, earned you broad bipartisan support in your confirmation vote. And that reputation is now imperiled by your participation in the abrupt dismissal of FBI Director Comey.’’
Schumer asks for answers by Monday to the questions, including whether it’s true that Comey had asked the Justice Department for more resources for the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections; whether Rosenstein conveyed that request to the White House; whether he met with President Donald Trump on Monday and if he knew the subject of that meeting in advance; and details of the memo Rosenstein wrote for Trump to help justify removing Comey.
If recent history is any guide, Rosenstein is unlikely to provide a line-by-line response, likely leading Democrats to use Rosenstein’s silence as further justification to continue holding up business in the U.S. Senate and to put more pressure on congressional Republicans to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s meddling.
Meanwhile, other Democratic senators sought Thursday to learn more about Comey’s request for more resources to expand his probe of Russian interference.
Sens. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee and oversee funding for the Justice Department, also asked Rosenstein to specify the circumstances surrounding Comey’s request.
‘‘The American people have a right to know, for the sake of our national security and sovereignty, whether and to what extent Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) should dedicate the needed personnel and resources to the investigation without hesitation,’’ Leahy and Shaheen wrote in a letter to the deputy attorney general.
The senators added that they want ‘‘the details of any request for increased resources made by the FBI to DOJ’’ and ‘‘how this request was communicated from the FBI to DOJ, and whether similar requests were made to the White House.’’ They’re also curious to learn about ‘‘any other constraints that might limit the FBI in conducting a thorough investigation.’’