The impeachment articles come as evidence continues to mount regarding the Department of Justice’s problematic decision-making during the 2016 campaign and conduct surrounding the transition to President Trump’s administration in 2017. The impeachment articles are the result of nearly nine months of unsuccessful congressional attempts to force the Department of Justice (DOJ) to comply with oversight requests.
The failures cited within the articles include intentionally withholding embarrassing documents and information, knowingly hiding material investigative information from Congress, various abuses of the FISA process, and failure to comply with congressional subpoenas, among others.
“The DOJ is keeping information from Congress,” Jordan said. “Enough is enough. It’s time to hold Mr. Rosenstein accountable for blocking Congress’s constitutional oversight role.”
Added Meadows: “With Attorney General Sessions’ recusal, Rod Rosenstein has been in charge of the Department of Justice as the agency has made every effort to obstruct legitimate attempts of Congressional oversight. The stonewalling over this last year has been just as bad or worse than under the Obama administration. Multiple times we’ve caught DOJ officials hiding information from Congress, withholding relevant documents, or even outright ignoring Congressional subpoenas—and now we have evidence that Mr. Rosenstein signed off on a document using unverified political opposition research as a cornerstone of a FISA application to spy on an American citizen working for the Trump campaign. This level of conduct, paired with the failure to even feign an interest in transparency, is reprehensible. And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, this kind of obstruction is wrong — period.
“For nine months we’ve warned them consequences were coming, and for nine months we’ve heard the same excuses backed up by the same unacceptable conduct,” Meadows continued. “Time is up and the consequences are here. It’s time to find a new Deputy Attorney General who is serious about accountability and transparency.”
Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, and Jordan, the Ohio Republican who is the former chairman of that caucus, have been highly critical of Rosenstein, with Jordan and Rosenstein exchanging testy remarks at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing last month.
In their resolution, the two argue the deputy attorney general should be impeached because he did not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling, that he failed to produce documents requested by Congress, and that he redacted too much from documents he did release.
Democrats said the resolution was on tenuous ground.
“There are no grounds for House Republicans to impeach Rod Rosenstein. He’s well-respected and doing his job overseeing the Mueller investigation,” Senate Judiciary ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said. “Trying to remove Rod Rosenstein from the Justice Department for failing to disclose sources, methods and evidence from an open investigation is beyond the pale. This is partisan nonsense. It’s dangerous for the rule of law and it needs to stop.”
Here are comments from other Republican members of Congress:
• Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “Congress gave Mr. Rosenstein plenty of time to comply with our requests. We have been reasonable and up front with him. Unfortunately, at almost every opportunity, Mr. Rosenstein has resisted and defied Congress’s constitutional oversight. His time to obstruct our investigations has expired. Mr. Rosenstein’s Department is subject to constitutional checks and balances. I call on my colleagues to assert our constitutional responsibility and approve these articles of impeachment.”
• Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa,): “The Department of Justice continues to thwart and/or impede the oversight authority of the Congress. We must ensure transparency, and stop unelected bureaucrats from avoiding accountability to the American People.”
• Rep. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-Ariz.): “It’s time to stop letting unelected bureaucrats rule over the people’s house. Rod Rosenstein has repeatedly failed to deliver requested documents, ignored subpoenas and ultimately stonewalled Congress. His obstruction and reckless actions have completely undermined the American people. In order to restore the power to the people, we must impeach Rod Rosenstein. I will continue to fight to shine a light on the facts and ensure power is restored to the American people.”
• Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.): “I have tremendous respect for the men and women of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, many of whom put their lives on the line every day in service to our country. Unfortunately, for too long, there has been a culture of stonewalling and misdirection that has permeated the highest levels of these organizations, most especially under the failed leadership of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former FBI Director James Comey. It is the duty of America’s law enforcement agencies to rise above the fray, and it is our duty in Congress to root out corruption in our government when it presents itself. While we have acted in good faith and given DAG Rosenstein every opportunity to comply with Congressional requests, he has evaded our attempts to conduct oversight time and time again. Now, the only recourse we have left in order to fulfill our vested duty is to hold Rod Rosenstein accountable – before the American people lose all trust and confidence in these agencies.”
• Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.): “Rod Rosenstein and the Department of Justice have repeatedly ignored Congressional requests and subpoenas, showing a complete disregard for Congressional oversight authority. In his capacity as Deputy AG, Mr. Rosenstein oversaw and approved of the likely-improper FISA warrant on Carter Page and subsequent surveillance of President Trump’s team. His leadership has weakened Americans’ faith in the intelligence community and in seeing justice served; he should be removed immediately.”
• Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.): “Given many opportunities to cooperate with Congress, Rod Rosenstein has demonstrated a chronic inability to answer questions important to our investigation of alleged criminal abuses of intelligence services under the previous administration. Even under subpoena, the Deputy Attorney General has refused to produce necessary documents, because they implicate top Department of Justice and FBI officials, including himself. His own role in fraudulent warrants and wiretapping the President’s campaign is a major conflict of interest that renders him unfit to oversee the Special Counsel or DOJ. Removing Mr. Rosenstein from office is the only option left to Congress.”
Just because members of Congress introduce impeachment articles against a federal official doesn't mean that federal official will be removed from office.
It's easy for congressional leaders in Congress to sidetrack such resolutions, as they did when former Cleveland Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich repeatedly introduced measures to impeach former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over the Iraq War. Several Democratic members of Congress have introduced impeachment resolutions against Trump which haven't gone anywhere.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Ruger of CQ-Roll Call (TNS) and Sabrina Eaton of Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS) contributed to this story.