WASHINGTON — Rep. Elijah E. Cummings called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday to conduct an emergency hearing if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is forced out of his position by President Donald J. Trump.
The Baltimore lawmaker called Rosenstein a “firewall” because he oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump has repeatedly called the probe a “witch hunt.”
“If President Trump forces out Mr. Rosenstein — regardless of how it happens — the American people deserve a full and complete accounting of these actions, and the Oversight Committee should hold an immediate emergency hearing with Mr. Rosenstein, obtain all the emails and other correspondence from the White House and Justice Department, and start conducting transcribed interviews and depositions about this decision,” Cummings, the top-ranking Democrat on the committee, said in a written statement.
“Mr. Rosenstein’s removal would plunge our nation into uncharted territory and pose a serious and profound threat to the continued work of the Special Counsel, and I would expect the American people to be outraged if President Trump’s extended campaign to interfere with this investigation results in Mr. Rosenstein’s ouster,” he said.
Rosenstein’s tenure as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department was imperiled after a report on Friday said he had discussed constitutional means to remove Trump and the possibility of secretly recording the president. Rosenstein said the report was inaccurate and “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” which outlines a method to remove an unfit chief executive.
Trump and Rosenstein are to meet on Thursday.
Cummings has complained previously that Republicans controlling the oversight committee are not aggressively fulfilling their duty to investigate the Trump administration when warranted.
Last month, Cummings urged Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who chairs the panel, to summon Trump’s former personal lawyer to testify, saying Michael Cohen’s interactions with the president “warrant robust and credible oversight” by Congress.
“As Chairman Gowdy has said repeatedly, Congress does not investigate crime,” Amanda Gonzalez Thompson, Gowdy’s committee spokesperson, said at the time. “Michael Cohen should turn over any and all evidence to Special Counsel Mueller."
Thompson did not immediately reply to a request on Monday for comment on Cummings’ latest request.