Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended special counsel Robert Mueller in an interview published Monday, saying that he doesn’t believe “there is any justification” for ending the probe into Russia’s election interference.
“The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” Rosenstein told USA Today. “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
The Washington Post reported earlier this year that President Trump had ordered that Mueller be fired last summer, but was thwarted by White House counsel Don McGahn, who threatened to resign over the move.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.”
Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller following the firing of FBI Director James Comey and recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the 2016 investigation, said oversight of the probe takes up only “a fraction” of his time on a daily basis.
He also defended the Justice Department from recent attacks.
Trump and Republican lawmakers have slammed the department and the FBI, claiming officials there are biased against Trump.
“I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice,” said Rosenstein, who did not mention Trump by name during the interview. “I’m very confident that when the history of this era is written, it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity.”
He also said that he felt “very confident” in his ability to carry out his job.
“In any political job, you recognize that your time is going to be limited. My goal is to get as much done for as long as I’m here in the job,” Rosenstein said.
“And when my time is up, whenever that may be, I’m confident that I’m going to be able to look back proudly on the work our department has done while I’ve been fortunate enough to be here,” he continued.
Rosenstein added that he had “anticipated that this would be a lower-profile job,” but that he wouldn’t trade places with past deputy attorneys general.
His comments came the same day GOP lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee announced that they are ending the panel’s probe into Russia’s election interference.
The Republican lawmakers are finalizing their report on the probe’s findings, and will say that they found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.