Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faced a barrage of pointed questions about bias in the Justice Department during a Thursday appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.
At issue was the now-infamous 2016 text from FBI agent Peter Strzok to his colleague and lover Lisa Page saying “we’ll stop it,” in reference to the possibility of a Trump presidency.
Florida Republican Ron DeSantis asked Rosenstein directly why the damning text did not show up in the original batch of texts, including messages from that date, that the FBI turned over to Congress.
Rosenstein responded that the technological process of obtaining the texts was “pretty complicated,” and insisted that “we’re not withholding anything embarrassing.”
“We’re asking you to produce stuff and obviously we’re expecting a good-faith effort,” DeSantis said. “So it’s very disappointing to see that text message there.”
“The American people see that. Doesn’t that undermine the whole integrity of the actions of people like Peter Strozk?” the congressman continued.
Rosenstein agreed that Strozk’s actions were “highly inappropriate.”
“It’s more than that,” DeSantis said.
After the release of his explosive report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that the bias evident in the texts is “completely antithetical to the core values of the department.”
Rosenstein also came under fire from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Jim Jordan, who blasted his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“Russia attacked this country. They should be the target, but Russia isn’t being hurt by this investigation right now. We are,” Gowdy told Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray. “Democrats are using this investigation as a presumption of guilt, which I find astonishing, and in the long run for the health of this republic I would encourage them to go back to the presumption of innocence that we used to hold sacred.”
Jordan pointed out that the House started asking for information from the Justice Department last July and has still not received everything it requested.
Strzok testified to House members in a closed-door hearing on Wednesday, telling skeptical Republicans that his political feelings never affected any of his decisions at the FBI regarding either the Clinton email probe or the Russia investigation.