WASHINGTON — Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and fellow U.S. House conservatives appear poised to force a floor vote on impeaching U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is supervising special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
At a gathering Tuesday of conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill, Jordan, R-Urbana, said “all options are on the table,” contending Rosenstein has declined to provide a House panel with thousands of pages of documents related to the FBI investigation into the private e-mails of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We’re considering everything because we’re not getting the response and information from the department that we should be getting,” Jordan said. “We’ve been very clear about that.”
The determination to press ahead is prompting criticism from some Republicans because Rosenstein announced Friday that a federal grand jury had indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for hacking the emails in 2016 of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign.
In addition, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have assailed President Donald Trump for failing at the Helsinki summit Monday to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin on accusations that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Attempting to impeach one of the people involved in indicting a dozen Russians for interfering with our election system, something that’s been proven by every U.S. intelligence agency and Republicans on both the House and Senate intelligence committees, would make it look like you’re as deep in Putin’s pocket as Trump is,” said Jeff Sadosky, a Republican strategist in Washington.
Jordan’s comments came on the heels of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assertion Tuesday that he thinks the Justice Department is now turning over the material.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the head of the Freedom Caucus, begged to differ Tuesday, saying the department is “moving at glacial speed” and “the speaker has been misinformed.”
Ryan isn’t the only top Republican to express ambivalence about taking on Rosenstein. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he does not support impeaching Rosenstein.
“For what? Impeach him for what?” Gowdy asked on the CBS program.
Gowdy said he’s “had my differences with Rod Rosenstein” but noted Rosenstein is a Trump appointee. “If President Trump is dissatisfied with Rod Rosenstein, he can fire him with a tweet,” he said.
Jordan showed none of that reluctance at a news conference Tuesday with fellow members of the Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative organization he helped found.
“They haven’t complied with document requests,” he said of the FBI. “There are two subpoenas that they are not in compliance with. We have caught them hiding information from us, redacting information that should have not been redacted. It has been reported in the press that Rod Rosenstein threatened staff members on the House Intelligence Committee.”
Jordan said he disagreed with Ryan’s assessment that the FBI was moving into compliance. “All options are still on the table because we need to get the information so we can get the answers,” he said.