Trump appeared to slam Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a tweet
The apparent anger does not square with the effusive praise Trump and other officials have heaped on Rosenstein in the past
Last month, President Donald Trump and his administration were out praising Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Things have changed.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the President declared in a Friday morning tweet.
If “the man” in the tweet is, in fact, Rosenstein – as one person who recently spoke to Trump told CNN – Trump’s anger marks a whopper of a turnaround on the same man he and other senior White House officials praised effusively just weeks ago.
Rosenstein is the man responsible for both writing the memo recommending Comey’s firing and for later naming Robert Mueller as special counsel in the wide-scoping investigation into Russian meddling in the election.
His memo, which criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, was initially cited by the White House as the reason Trump made the decision to fire Comey. That narrative, however, was quickly undermined when Trump himself said that he had already planned to fire Comey, adding that he was thinking of the FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia when he made the decision to do so.
If Trump and other senior White House officials have concerns about Rosenstein’s credibility, they certainly didn’t voice it in the past.
Here is what they had to say:
Trump himself praised Rosenstein in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on May 11.
“He’s highly respected – very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him.”
Vice President Mike Pence
The vice president also spoke highly of Rosenstein.
The day after Comey’s firing on May 9, he told reporters on the Hill, “He is a man of extraordinary independence and integrity and a reputation in both political parties of great character.”
White House Press secretary Sean Spicer
Spicer also defended Rosenstein, telling Fox Business on the night of the firing that he is “someone who has earned bipartisan support and most recently served as the US attorney for Maryland under President Obama. He is someone who has been around the Department of Justice, as I mentioned, for 30 years.”
“No one can question Rod Rosenstein’s credentials,” Spicer said.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
In the wake of the Comey firing, Sanders said Rosenstein “is somebody who has been universally praised. I mean we had Rep. Cummings just last week talking about what a stand-up guy the deputy attorney general is. You have somebody with this type of reputation, with praise from across the board, who was confirmed 94-6.”
At the next morning’s press conference, she kept up the praise. “Everybody across the board has unequivocally said, ‘This guy is a man of upstanding character’ and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice.”
She said that Rosenstein “has been part of the Justice Department for 30 years and is such a respected person.”
Sanders concluded: “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 6 and had overwhelming praise from both sides of the aisle, I think there’s complete confidence in him.”
Counselor Kellyanne Conway
Conway shared the positive view of the deputy attorney general, offering praise of Rosenstein to Anderson Cooper on the night of Comey’s firing.
“He’s well respected across both sides of the aisle,” Conway said. “He served as US attorney in Maryland under President Obama.”
“This is a man who’s trying to ‘restore public confidence in the FBI,’ she said. “And I would really ask everyone tonight, instead of all the conjecture, to read Mr. Rosenstein’s memo.”
“So the same senators who just voted to confirm this man, whose integrity is not in doubt, we’re supposed to believe the derogatory descriptions you just made of him?” Conway continued. “That’s not fair.”
The next morning, Conway told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that, ” Everybody respects him as far as I can see.”
CNN’s Athena Jones contributed to this report.