Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was deeply conflicted about recommending that former FBI Director James Comey be fired, according to the New York Times, citing four people "familiar with his outbursts."
In public, Mr. Rosenstein has shown no hint that he had second thoughts about his role — writing a memo about Mr. Comey’s performance that the White House used to justify firing him. “I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it,” Mr. Rosenstein said to Congress last year.
But in meetings with law enforcement officials in the chaotic days immediately after Mr. Comey’s dismissal, and in subsequent conversations with colleagues and friends, Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, according to the four people. -NYT
Rosenstein "alternately defended his involvement, expressed remorse at the tumult it unleashed, said the White House had manipulated him, fumed how the media had portrayed the events and said the full story would vindicate him," according to the four people (familiar with his outbursts).
Another person familiar with Rosenstein's state of mind during that time period said he sounded "frantic, nervous, upset and emotionally dis-regulated," while becoming "visibly upset" with former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe at one point.
His public and private views demonstrate the dueling forces pulling at Mr. Rosenstein in the special counsel’s investigation of the president and his associates.
Mr. Rosenstein is both the ultimate supervisor of that case — and will determine what information is eventually provided to Congress — and a key participant in the matter being investigated. Mr. Trump’s lawyers also regard him as one of the essential witnesses for the president’s defense because Mr. Rosenstein, they say, wanted to get rid of Mr. Comey. -NYT
DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores disputes the accounts of Rosenstein's behavior - stating that if he was agitated, it was only because Andrew McCabe hid the existence of the Comey memos detailing his interactions with President Trump.
“To be clear, he was upset not because knowledge of the existence of the memos would have changed the DAG’s decision regarding Mr. Comey, but that Mr. McCabe chose not to tell him about their existence until only hours before someone shared them with The New York Times,” Ms. Flores said.
Late night texts
The Times also reports that Rosenstein has been concerned about his reputation - texting people at all hours of the night to discuss people who are targeting him, "according to people who spoke to him."
Stepping on Sessions' toes
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he felt "blindsided" by Rosenstein's decision to appoint Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.
On the afternoon that Mr. Mueller’s appointment was announced, Mr. Sessions was in the Oval Office with the president discussing candidates to be F.B.I. director when they both learned that Mr. Rosenstein had made his decision. Mr. Trump erupted in anger, saying he needed someone overseeing the investigation who would be loyal to him. Mr. Sessions offered to resign.
Mr. Sessions felt blindsided by Mr. Rosenstein’s decision. After leaving the White House, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, Jody Hunt, confronted Mr. Rosenstein, demanding to know why he had not given them advance warning, according to a lawyer briefed on the exchange. Mr. Rosenstein has told others that he was worried at the time he would be fired by the president. -NYT
“The White House put Greyhound tire tracks on his back,” said Andrew White, a former federal prosecutor who has worked with Rosenstein and remains close. “They threw him under the bus.”
During Thursday's Congressional testimony, Rosenstein angrily pushed back against suggestions that he lacked integrity.
"You should believe me because I'm telling the truth and I'm under oath," he said.
Poor Rod, just a misunderstood Deputy AG trying to make the world a better place.