Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered on Democrats’ wishes this week when he decided to appoint legendary FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.
Rosenstein is a widely admired, longtime DOJ official with a reputation as a nonpartisan “straight shooter.” He earned Senate confirmation on April 25th with an overwhelming 94-6 vote, with Democrats seeing him as an important check to President Trump and AG Jeff Sessions.
Rosenstein was criticized for his role in the recent dismissal of James Comey, but Democrats have praised his recent decision to hire Mueller.
“A special counsel is very much needed in this situation and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has done the right thing,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Some see Rosenstein’s decision to hire Mueller as a PR move to make up for his recommendation to fire Comey. “It doesn’t erase what Rosenstein did last week – and it doesn’t guarantee a real investigation,” writes NY Times’ David Leonhardt. “It’s the single best thing Rosenstein could have done to atone for his mistake.”
Rosenstein is the nation’s longest-serving Attorney General, representing the state of Maryland from 2005 to 2017. Like Mueller, he has a reputation for being able to handle complex and sensitive investigations.
Megan Brown, an attorney who worked with Rosenstein in Maryland, calls him an “archetype of a civil servant.”
In the 1990s, Rosenstein was among the team of prosecutors selected to investigate the Whitewater real estate dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton. In 2012, he was appointed by AG Eric Holder to take part in the investigation that led to retired Marine General James Cartwright’s guilty plea on making false statements about a secret US cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program.
Rosenstein graduated from Harvard Law in 1989, earning a spot in the attorney general’s honor’s program in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section just one year later.
Rosenstein was “truly respected in the US Attorney community, was a valuable resource for my office with truly difficult and sensitive matters needed to be handled well, and was an outstanding representative of the Department and what it stood for,” wrote Obama-era Deputy AG James Cole.