Rod Rosenstein: What you need to know about the official overseeing the Russia probe
Fast facts about the Deputy Attorney General at the center of the investigation into Trump and Russia.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is never far from the headlines these days, largely because of President Trump's Twitter feed and his role overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation. He'll likely take center stage again in the next few months, as Robert Mueller's findings become known or Justice Department personnel drama plays out. Today, Trump exhorted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the probe, which he can begin to do by firing Rosenstein; last week, a group of House Republicans filed for his impeachment. Both scenarios are considered unlikely.
What are the important things to know about the man at the center of one of the most dramatic and consequential political investigations ever?
Rosenstein, 53, is a former U.S attorney who was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard Law School. A longtime Republican, he was nominated to prominent jobs in the Justice Department and the judiciary by Republican presidents.
After serving as a tax attorney in the Department of Justice in Washington, Rosenstein was nominated by President George W. Bush to be U.S. attorney from Maryland in 2005; he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In that role, he was particularly known for prosecuting leaks of classified information and police corruption. In 2007, Bush nominated him to be a judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Maryland's Democratic senators used their "white card" privileges to block the nomination, saying Rosenstein didn't have strong enough ties to Maryland.
On Feb. 1, 2017, President Trump nominated Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General under Jeff Sessions. He was confirmed by the Senate 94-6.
Rosenstein was criticized for writing a May 8 providing a rationale for FBI Director Jim Comey's firing, at at the direction of Trump and Sessions. Rosenstein wrote that Comey had committed "mistakes" at the bureau. (Trump later admitted in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of "this Russia thing.") Because of the public uproar that followed, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" or "any matters arising from the investigation."
Despite pressure to end the investigation, Rosenstein has let Mueller do his work, as well as approving a raid on the home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer/fixer.
Last month, Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.
Rod Rosenstein's wife is Lisa Barsoomian, a former assistant U.S. attorney who works for the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. They have two daughters. "Reserved and bookish, [Rosenstein] spends most of his time, friends say, working or spending time with his wife and children, including frequently shuttling his two teenage girls to soccer and softball games," said the "New York Times."
Barsoomian is a registered Republican. As a U.S. attorney, she was one of several Justice Department officials to sign a document defending then-President Clinton against a 1998 lawsuit alleging "anti-white discrimination" that was dismissed as spurious by a judge. Conspiracy theorists have attempted to spin Barsoomian as a "former Clinton defense lawyer." This is not accurate. As a U.S. attorney, she represented the U.S. government on that case, as well as in cases involving Gen. Colin Powell (a Republican) and the FBI.