Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told officials he is unhappy with the way the White House handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Flores, however, said Rosenstein did not threaten to resign over Comey’s ouster, contrary to The Washington Post and other press reports. Flores said she spoke with Rosenstein.
Comey was addressing employees in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office when a television screen tuned to Fox News flashed a banner saying he had resigned. He had not, and he took it as a joke. But soon thereafter, CNN on another television monitor nearby reported that he had been fired.
Rosenstein also is unhappy about the fact that White House officials have tried to pin the Comey firing on him, using his reputation as cover for how it was done, the sources said.
Vice President Mike Pence and deputy White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday repeatedly cited Rosenstein’s memo on Comey recommending the FBI director’s removal, leveraging his reputation and bipartisan Senate confirmation vote
“The new deputy attorney general, who was just sworn in two weeks ago and confirmed by the Senate, came to work,” Pence told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday morning. “He is a man of extraordinary independence and integrity and a reputation in both political parties of great character, came to work, sat down and made the recommendation for the FBI to be able to do its job that it would need new leadership.”
Sanders, at the White House briefing, called Rosenstein “a man of upstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice.”
She added, “we are incredibly confident in his abilities, as, I believe, you can tell by the rest of the Senate, including many Democrats, are as well. Given the fact that he was confirmed 94 to six and had overwhelming praise from both sides of the aisle, I think there’s complete confidence in him. And another reason, frankly, for Director Comey to be out of the way, so that they can have somebody leading this effort that everybody across the board has respect and confidence in.”
CNN’s David Wright contributed to this report.