Skip to main content

Sessions Downplays Rosenstein’s Role in Comey Firing; Says OIG Report Could Prompt More Terminations


Hours before the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General releases a long-awaited report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave his take on what the repercussions of the report may be.

In an interview with The Hill, Sessions said he thinks the report will support President Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. That decision came after the recommendation of Sessions himself, which was in turn informed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“The recommendations we made on the dismissal of Comey resulted from his handling of certain cases that were laid out in his (Rosenstein’s) recommendation to me or his analysis to me and my recommendation to President Trump,” Sessions said. Comey came under fire for his unorthodox methods during the Clinton investigation including making a public announcement of his recommendation not to file charges, as well as his subsequent letter to Congress announcing the reopening of the probe soon before the 2016 election. The OIG report is expected to address this and other alleged missteps that Comey made during the Clinton investigation.

While Comey is already gone from the FBI, Sessions hinted that more departures may follow the report’s release, depending on what it says.

“If anyone else shows up in this report to have done something that requires termination we will do so,” Sessions said.

Rosenstein, however, probably won’t be one of them. In fact, Sessions defended his Deputy AG during his interview with The Hill. Sessions claimed that allegations of Rosenstein’s conflicts of interest as the overseer of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation are overblown. Rosenstein’s role in Comey’s firing have led some to believe he should be a witness in Mueller’s probe of possible obstruction of justice, not the one calling the shots. Sessions went against this theory, taking sole responsibility for what led to Comey’s termination and Rosenstein’s role in the Russia probe.

“That decision really fell to me , ultimately on the Comey matter,” Sessions said, saying it was “the right move.” He also noted that he gave Rosenstein authorization to to handle the Russia investigation after he recused himself.

Sessions expects the OIG report, which should be released Thursday afternoon, to set the record straight when it comes to how the Justice Department operates.

“I think it will help us better fix any problem that we have and reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.”

Moving forward, Sessions is optimistic about the FBI’s future and current leader Christopher Wray. He endorsed FBI staff as “fabulous patriots” who are “highly talented and well trained.” He also said the recent firing of former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was the right move, following a separate report of his wrongdoing, which included allegations that he lied to officials.

“We can’t tolerate errors and impropriety and we will not do so.”

[Image via The Hill screengrab]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: