Lawmakers press Rosenstein on Russia during Deputy AG confirmation hearing

Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-07 18:49:18-05

Was Russia involved in any way in President Donald Trump's campaign or last year's election? 

Maryland's top attorney could be the one in charge of finding out that answer.

Taking on question after question, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein was peppered with inquiries on what he'd do about Russia. 

"My understanding of this, and again it's based solely on media accounts at this point. My understanding is that at least one of your colleagues called for a special counsel for something related to this matter, while Attorney General Lynch was in office in early January, and she rejected the request," Rosenstein told one senator during his confirmation hearing. 

The longtime U.S. Attorney carefully choose his words on his approach to a possible investigation into election tampering and President Trump's claims of wiretapping during his campaign. 

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, Rosenstein could be in charge of looking into the claims. 

"As far as I'm concerned, every investigation conducted by the Department of Justice is an independent investigation," Rosenstein said. "We prosecute tens of thousands of people every year and every one of those defendants deserves an independent prosecutor." 

While lawmakers asked Rosenstein about possible scenarios, Maryland's top attorney said he wasn't in the position to answer because he hadn't looked into intelligence findings into Russian interference. 

Still he said he was committed and prepared for the job.

"On the issue of foreign interference in American elections I can assure you, you and I are on the same side, I will certainly support any predicated investigation related to interference by the Russians or anybody else in American elections."

While both of Maryland's democratic Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin support Rosenstein's nomination, they recommend an outside investigation into Russian tampering.