Rod Rosenstein calls James Comey a 'partisan pundit'

The former deputy attorney general hit back at the ex-FBI director for questioning his behavior after the Mueller report.
Image: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a news conference
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a news conference on April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington.Patrick Semansky / AP file

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — In remarks prepared for delivery Monday night, former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein calls James Comey "a partisan pundit" and criticizes him for his recent remarks about Rosenstein.

In an op-ed last week in The New York Times, Comey asked how Rosenstein could, after the release of the Mueller report, give a speech quoting President Donald Trump on the rule of law and praise the president in his resignation letter. Comey concluded that Trump "eats your soul in small bites."

In remarks for a speech Monday night to the Greater Baltimore Committee, Rosenstein says Comey is now "a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul. That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Generally we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony."

Rosenstein also defended the memo he drafted that was cited by Trump in support of Comey's firing. Referring to the former FBI director's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigations final stages, he said, "There are bright lines that should never be crossed."

Repeating many of the points he made in the memo, Rosenstein said: "The clearest mistake was the director's decision to hold a press conference about an open case, reveal his recommendation and discuss details about the investigation, without the consent of the prosecutors and the attorney general. Then he chose to send a letter to the Congress on the eve of the election stating that one of the candidates was under criminal investigation, expecting it to be released immediately to the public. Those actions were not within the range of reasonable decisions."

Rosenstein's last day as deputy attorney general was Saturday. The Senate will likely vote on the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen later this week to succeed him.