'I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. OK?' Rosenstein said.
Republicans have been engaged in a months-long campaign to smear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and undermine the Department of Justice's investigation into the Trump campaign.
But in a stunning moment during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday morning, Rosenstein powerfully defended himself against what he called a "deeply wrong" personal attack from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Jordan repeatedly badgered Rosenstein and accused him of "hiding information" from Congress.
"I want to know why you won't give us what we've asked for," Jordan said.
"Sir, I hope that your colleagues are not under that impression, it is not accurate, sir," Rosenstein began.
"It is accurate, we have caught you hiding information, Mr. Rosenstein," Jordan interrupted.
Then several Democrats on the committee jumped in to rebuke Jordan's bullying.
"Mr. Chairman, can we allow the witness to answer?" Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) cut in. "We can go to Mr. Jordan's press conference and listen to him, but we came here to listen to the witnesses."
When Rosenstein tried to respond, Jordan interrupted and continued to accuse Rosenstein of "hiding information."
"Mr. Chairman, he should be given the opportunity to answer," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said.
When he finally did get to answer, it was something to behold. An obviously fed-up Rosenstein reminded Jordan who he was talking to — one of the nation's top law enforcement officials, who wasn't going to take baseless attacks on his character lying down.
"Mr. Jordan, I am the deputy attorney general of the United States. OK?" Rosenstein said. "I'm not the the person doing the redacting. I'm responsible for responding to your concerns ... and whenever you've brought issues to my attention, I have taken appropriate steps to remedy them. So your statement that I am personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information from you —"
"You're the boss, Mr. Rosenstein," Jordan interrupted.
"That's correct!" Rosenstein responded emphatically. "And my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. Now, we have, sir. ... But your use of this to attack me personally is deeply wrong."
As part of the effort to undermine the investigation into Trump's obstruction of justice and his campaign's ties to Russia, Republicans have threatened to impeach Rosenstein over document requests that Rosenstein says are overly broad and could compromise the investigation.
Likewise, FBI Director Christopher has also warned that the Justice Department has an obligation "to protect sources and methods and not compromise ongoing criminal investigations."
Republicans are obviously only interested in protecting Trump and attacking the investigation — but clearly, Rosenstein and the Justice Department aren't just going to sit idly by and let that happen.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.