Schumer: Deputy AG candidate said he'd name special counsel on Russia if needed

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer answers questions at the Capitol during a news conference on March 2, 2017.

Story highlights

  • Schumer and many other congressional Democrats have called for a special prosecutor
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he hoped the Senate would confirm his deputy on Wednesday

Washington (CNN)Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that President Donald Trump's choice for the No. 2 post at the Justice Department would appoint a special counsel on Russia if need be.

Speaking on the Senate floor, the New York Democrat relayed his takeaway from a conversation with deputy attorney general nominee Rod Rosenstein.
"With respect to the executive branch investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr. Rosenstein committed to me he would appoint a special counsel to conduct that investigation if one is required," Schumer said.
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from federal investigations of the Trump campaign, said Monday that he hoped the Senate would confirm his deputy on Wednesday.
    FBI Director James Comey told the House intelligence committee in March that the FBI and the Department of Justice had an open investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The US intelligence community has accused Russia of seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election to help Trump. Both Russia and the Trump campaign have denied any wrongdoing.
    The Senate voted 92-6 to advance Rosenstein to a final confirmation vote. That vote isn't scheduled yet but should take place Tuesday or Wednesday.
    Schumer and many other congressional Democrats have called for a special prosecutor or independent counsel to investigate the matter. In addition to the executive branch investigation Comey confirmed, both the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are led by Republicans, have investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
    During his confirmation hearing, Democrats asked Rosenstein extensively about the Russia investigation and made multiple calls for a special prosecutor.
    The acting deputy attorney general is Dana Boente, an appointee of President Barack Obama. He served briefly as acting attorney general after Trump fired Sally Yates, who was in the top post while Trump waited for Sessions' Senate confirmation.