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Justice Department deputy reportedly threatened to quit after Comey’s ouster

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The White House portrayed his letter as the main reason Comey got sacked.

In this March 7, 2017, file photo, then-Deputy Attorney General-designate Rod Rosenstein, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. CREDIT: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

President Donald Trump says he based his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

But that narrative has begun to unravel. Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign after the White House portrayed his letter criticizing Comey as the basis for the president’s decision, according to the Washington Post. Rosenstein’s letter never explicitly recommended Comey’s removal — despite Republican claims to the contrary.

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When a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer who told Rosenstein to consider whether Comey should remain as FBI director on Wednesday, Spicer responded, “No one from the White House.”

But multiple news outlets have reported that Trump made up his mind long before speaking to either Sessions or Comey. Trump considered firing Comey as early as last weekend, according to The Washington Post, because Comey’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was accelerating and Comey continued to make public statements on the Russia investigation. The other reason for his termination, CNN reported, was the fact that Comey never gave the president “any assurance of personal loyalty.”

At least one Democratic lawmaker was unimpressed with the news that Rosenstein threatened to quit over Comey’s removal. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted that his alleged threat was “meaningless.”

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As one of the top officials in the Justice Department, Rosenstein has the authority to place a special prosecutor in charge of the Russia investigation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has publicly urged him to do so.


Justice Department deputy reportedly threatened to quit after Comey’s ouster was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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