The conservative House Freedom Caucus wants Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify before the House Judiciary Committee or step down from his role at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“We took an official position that Rod Rosenstein needs to come in and testify before the Judiciary Committee within the week or he should resign,” HFC Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told The Hill on Tuesday evening, adding that he believes “hearings without consequences are a waste of the American taxpayer dollars.”
Meadows said he’s discussed their call for a hearing with top Republicans in the House, which was met with mixed feedback.
“I approached it with leadership,” he continued. “Obviously there are some leadership that are supportive, there are some there are cautious and I think the American people demand action.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — a leading voice in the powerful conservative group who is seeking to be the next Speaker — echoed Meadows sentiments.
“What would be the downside [of a hearing]?” he told reporters ahead of the meeting. “The American people would like to know, was the guy running the Justice Department actually talking in front of subordinates about recording conversations with the President of the United States, with the commander in chief. Even if it was done in a sarcastic way it’s kind of weird.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said if reports Rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wearing a wire to secretly tape President Trump with administration officials are true, he doesn’t believe he should remain in his position.
“Well, I know that they’ve [the House Freedom Caucus] been very vocal for a long time,” Scalise told The Hill earlier in the day. “I’ve been real concerned about the direction that Rosenstein is taking. He, you know, I think even joking about the 25th Amendment challenge to the president, there’s no place for that and he ought to resign. But ultimately, you know, obviously, we have a lot of things going on this week.”
House Republicans are expected to leave Washington at the end of the week for October to campaign ahead of the midterm elections.
Despite the tight timeline, Meadows said he’s “optimistic that we will be able to find a date that works for the deputy attorney general.”
Rosenstein’s fate has once again become a topic of discussion after the bombshell New York Times reported earlier this month saying Rosenstein had discussed wearing a wire to record Trump.
On Monday, reports circulated that Rosenstein was heading to the White House expecting to either resign or be fired. The deputy attorney general left the meeting on Monday with his job intact, though Trump will meet with him on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday evening that Trump has told his advisers he’s open to keeping Rosenstein, though he hasn’t made a final decision.
As the DOJ’s No. 2 official, Rosenstein is responsible for overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference. Republicans, led by members of the Freedom Caucus, have long railed against the Mueller investigation.
Republicans are also beginning the process of subpoenaing the Justice Department for memos drafted by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Politico first reported Tuesday.