Two senior Justice Department officials from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office were seen by CNN entering the special counsel’s office in DC on Thursday afternoon, and a Justice official tells CNN their meetings are more frequent occurrences than previously known.
The two men, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan and Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools, entered the building just before 5 pm ET.
In the powerful post commonly known as the “Padag” within the department, O’Callaghan advises Rosenstein on all major investigations and policy matters and is known as Rosenstein’s right-hand man, while Schools serves as the most senior career attorney in the Justice Department.
When asked about their presence Thursday, a Justice official said it was a regularly scheduled meeting and emphasized that the two men meet with the special counsel team every other week. But it was the first time journalists who regularly watch the comings and goings at the special counsel office have seen the two going in.
CNN has previously reported that O’Callaghan has had a significant role helping Rosenstein oversee the Russia investigation.
President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly called the special counsel’s investigation a “witch hunt” run amok, but Rosenstein has vigorously pushed back on any assertion that he isn’t properly supervising special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I know what (Mueller’s) doing. I’m properly exercising my oversight responsibilities, and so I can assure you that the special counsel is conducting himself consistently with our understanding about the scope of his investigation,” Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee last year.
CNN’s Sophie Tatum and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.