(National Sentinel) Russia probe: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should recuse himself from any Russia-related probe undertaken by the Justice Department and the special counsel he appointed, because he is now playing the dual role of head of the probe and witness, argues noted constitutional expert and law professor Jonathan Turley.
“There are times when multitasking is a talent, but playing the roles of investigator and witness is not one of them. Rosenstein continues to resist calls for his own recusal, despite reports that a grand jury in Washington is now pursuing the obstruction allegations against President Trump,” Turley argued in a column this week he wrote for The Hill.
“Reports also indicate that various FBI officials now believe that they will inevitably be called as witnesses before the grand jury investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe is among those officials,” he continued. “But on the top of this list must be the man whom the White House originally tagged with the decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey and the man who reportedly clashed with the White House over its public account: Rod Rosenstein.”
In a subsequent appearance on Fox News, Turley went on to explain that Rosenstein is likely thinking about recusal, having made references to doing so in the past. But he added there is no indication yet that the Justice Department’s No. 2 official is set to do so.
“It seems to be perfectly obvious that he should have done so a considerable time ago, about 90 days ago,” he noted. “If you think that you’re a material witness, and I think that’s demonstrably the case that he’s a material witness, he should have taken himself out of the mix at that time.”
He said it has become “clear” that special counsel Robert Mueller is engaged in a criminal investigation that includes potential obstruction of justice, and high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials could be called as witnesses.
Turley said it was Rosenstein’s memo citing a loss of trust in former FBI Director James Comey that led President Donald J. Trump to fire Comey, and that puts him on any potential witness list Mueller’s grand jury may subpoena.
Fox News host Dana Perino went on to note that Trump was upset with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe, and that if Rosenstein were to do so, that might infuriate the president even more.
Turley said that should not enter into Rosenstein’s thoughts, as “this is an ethical issue.”
“I think he has to” do it, Turley said. “I think it’s very odd to have Mueller reporting to an individual who has not only evidence, but a personal or at least a professional stake in this. His actions, his decisions, are going to come under scrutiny before this grand jury if it’s looking at obstruction.
“He shouldn’t have the investigator on the scope of that investigation reporting to him,” Turley added.