Senators said their briefing Thursday with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey was useful but left many questions to be answered.
The closed-door meeting comes one day after Rosenstein’s announcement that former FBI Director Robert Mueller was being appointed to act as a special counselor on a private investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
GOP South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believes the investigation has evolved into a criminal investigation.
“It was a counterintelligence investigation before now. It seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation,” he told reporters.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters that members of the upper chamber asked around 35 questions, adding he didn’t find the meeting “overly informative.”
“The only thing I will say is that Rosenstein did a very good job articulating the fact that his goal is to make sure that all of the information is available to the public,” GOP South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott told reporters. “I think at this point, we are 24-hours into him shifting the responsibility to Muller, and he is very comfortable allowing Mueller to take the investigation as far, as deep and as wide as necessary to discern all the information to draw a conclusion.”
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said it was good to hear from Rosenstein directly instead of hearing the information “filtered through the press,” adding there are still many facts about Comey’s termination that remain unseen.
“So satisfaction wouldn’t be the word, but I am satisfied with this that we have an impending investigation that is going to be looking into all matters related to the case,” he said.
Booker said he believes Rosenstein was likely vague on some of his answers because “he felt constrained by the integrity of investigation not to answer all of our questions.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said Rosenstein did confirm the Department of Justice did not seek the approval of the White House when selecting Mueller to take over the investigation but remained mum on the details as to why Comey was fired.
“He believes the scope of Mueller’s investigation is so broad with so many questions in so many areas that may or may not lead to criminal prosecution that there were many things he didn’t want to comment on,” he said.
Durbin said he found Mueller’s comments that the administration won’t try to involve itself in the investigation reassuring.
“He said over and over again that Mueller is going to draw the scope of this investigation, and Mueller is going to have the resources and Mueller is not going to be interfered with by him or the Department of Justice,” he said.
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