A Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that a reported Republican effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises the special counsel probe, would send a “terrible message.”
“The President’s obviously growing more and more concerned about what ultimately will be his fate,” Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline told CNN’s John Berman. “We should protect our democracy, protect this process, protect the rule of law. I’m very disappointed that they would even suggest that they were seriously considering removing Rod Rosenstein.”
The congressman’s comments were in response to a Washington Post report that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have drafted articles of impeachment against Rosenstein in recent days. The document was obtained by the Post.
House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, told the Post that the impeachment articles are a “last resort option.” They’re also unlikely to gain traction in Congress, according to the Post.
But should the effort move forward, it would be referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The impeachment effort comes amid a battle between House Republicans and Rosenstein over obtaining Justice Department documents related to the Russia investigation, Hillary Clinton’s email server and other federal probes.
Last month, Justice Department officials agreed to allow a dozen Republican and Democratic staff from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees over to rooms at the department review hundreds of thousands of documents concerning the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation, according to two sources familiar with the agreement. The agreement largely quieted a festering fight over access to the materials by allowing the committee staff, not the FBI, to conduct the review of documents.
Cicilline suggested the threat of impeachment is meant to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Our Republican colleagues should be working with us in a bipartisan way to make sure this investigation is protected from any political interference, that it has the resources it needs to complete the work, and that no one attempts in any way to interfere by threatening Mr. Rosenstein, who is doing his job, because they don’t like what they are finding, or they may not like the results of this investigation,” Cicilline said.
CNN’s Laura Jarrett contributed to this report.