House Republican members of the conservative Freedom Caucus introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday - the latest salvo in an ongoing back-and-forth between some in the GOP over the Justice Department's handling of the Russian Federation probe.
"There are no grounds for House Republicans to impeach Rod Rosenstein". "This resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is a direct attack on the Special Counsel's investigation - full stop".
During an appearance in Boston, Sessions said Rosenstein had his "highest confidence" and referred to to his top deputy as "highly capable".
"There is absolutely no basis to impeach Rod Rosenstein".
If the House were to pass impeachment articles, "this would tie the Senate into knots" when members need to be acting on other matters, Ryan said. The Republicans in question have no quarrel with Trump on this matter, and if he wanted to, he could simply fire Rosenstein - which would be much easier than impeaching him.
Rosenstein's antagonists, however, led by Republicans Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of OH, have vowed that they will continue to pursue the effort and keep up their campaign against Rosenstein and the Justice Department, which they argue are stonewalling requests for information about the 2016 elections investigations.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC also dismissed the possibility, saying it's "more likely" he'd end up "in the NBA playing basketball" than Rosenstein is to be impeached.
"The DOJ is keeping information from Congress", Jordan said, referring to the Department of Justice.
Democrats charge that Republicans are targeting Rosenstein because they're trying to undercut Mueller's probe. House leadership has not signed on to the resolution.
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Democrats have criticized Republican efforts to pressure the Justice Department in recent months, saying they are attempts to undermine Mueller's investigation.
The group, led by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, has criticized Rosenstein and Justice Department officials for not being responsive enough as House committees have requested documents related to the Russian Federation investigation and the closed investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails.
"It's very clear that DOJ has to provide the information because the House of Representatives has the responsibility and accountability to oversee", said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Meadows said after that meeting that there was still "frustration" with how the department has handled the oversight requests.
The Justice Department has already handed over about 880,000 documents to Congress, but Meadows and his conservative allies are seeking more.
It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for lawmakers to demand documents that are part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Jerrold Nadler of New York, Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Adam Schiff of California added: "It is certainly not, as its sponsors claim, a principled attempt to conduct oversight of the Department of Justice, because House Republicans have refused to conduct oversight of any aspect of the Trump administration, except where the inquiry might distract from their failed agenda, undermine law enforcement, and serve the interests of President Trump".
"Information has been hidden, efforts have been stonewalled", Meadows said during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday night.
Justice Department officials maintain that lawmakers have been provided with almost all the documents requested by the House Judiciary subpoena from March and that they have been trying to accommodate incoming requests from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.