Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly was quite angry after FBI Director James Comey was fired last year, though he has never said that publicly before. The White House used a letter by Rosenstein to justify firing Comey, and Rosenstein has repeatedly stood behind the letter he wrote. However, new details are emerging that give a fuller picture of how he is said to have felt at the time.
The New York Times reports that in the days after Comey was fired, at the time supposedly on the basis of Rosenstein’s memo, he was quite angry and felt used by the White House. Four people familiar with the alleged outbursts reveal that the deputy district attorney believed that the way Comey’s firing was tied to his memo ultimately damaged his reputation. He told Congress when questioned last year that he stood by and believed what he wrote. However, it seems that privately, in discussions with friends and colleagues, he felt differently.
In various discussions during the explosive aftermath of the Comey firing, Rosenstein apparently voiced frustration, remorse, and regret over the chaos that ensued. He voiced annoyance that the White House had used him and believed that if things were reported accurately, he would have been thoroughly vindicated in his involvement. One person details that the deputy attorney general was overwhelmed, unsteady, and shaken in the days after the FBI director was fired.
Yet another source details that Rosenstein sounded “frantic, nervous, upset and emotionally dis-regulated” at the time. Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, disputes those sources, however. She said that while the deputy attorney general was upset in the days after the firing, it was because then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe didn’t tell Rosenstein about the memos that Comey wrote detailing his interactions with the president until shortly before they were revealed to the press.
Interestingly, someone close to McCabe has pushed back against Flores’ statement, indicating that he never discussed issues regarding the memos with Rosenstein. Despite the fact that the Comey firing happened about a year ago, sources indicate that even in recent months, Rosenstein continued to communicate with people close to him to gauge how this all has impacted his reputation. As many may recall, he had only been in his position for a couple of weeks before this all transpired with the former FBI director.
The Hill spoke with former federal prosecutor Andrew White, who is connected to Rosenstein, about the situation. White believes that the deputy attorney general’s anger is justified, saying that the White House threw him under the bus and “put Greyhound tire tracks on his back.” Rosenstein spent quite a bit of time speaking with Congress this week, and he remained his calm, structured self as people are used to seeing.
It seems unlikely that Rod Rosenstein will ever publicly say that he felt used and thrown under the bus by the White House during the Comey firing, but many would say it’s understandable why he might feel that way.