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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Says House Briefing with Deputy AG Rosenstein Left Unanswered the Most Difficult Questions

May 19, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today attended a closed-door briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with the full of House of Representatives, which she said should have been held in public because Rosenstein refused to answer questions on issues that have troubled Members and the American public.  For example, Norton said Rosenstein would not say whether President Trump had asked him to write the memo to President Trump that the White House used to justify the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey.  Norton said he also would not say whether it was appropriate for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from matters related to ongoing investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, to recommend the firing of Director Comey, who was leading the FBI’s Russia investigation.  She said Rosenstein did not say whether he had considered that his memo to the President might be used as a pretext for the President’s firing of Comey.  Norton said Rosenstein acknowledged the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a criminal investigation, and he repeatedly used Mueller and his investigation as a reason or an excuse for not answering difficult questions posed by Members.

“I left today’s briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein wondering why his memo to the President, which he summarized, was entirely about Director Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, when President Trump stated his reason for firing Director Comey was because of Comey’s poor performance and the Russia investigation,” Norton said.  “I agree that Rosenstein did the right thing in deciding to appoint a special counsel.  However, I believe he had no alternative because his memo to the President had cast a shadow over the Department of Justice’s investigation and his own reputation.  In addition to the special counsel’s investigation, Congress must establish an outside, independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference during the 2016 elections and possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.”