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Rosenstein confirmed as deputy attorney general

Senate votes in favor 94-6
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Posted at 11:26 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 11:34:24-04

The confirmation of the deputy attorney general for the United States is usually not met with the kind of fanfare and high profile hearings that Rod Rosenstein endured last month.

But with his new boss, Jeff Sessions recusing himself from investigating any sort of Russian connection to the Trump campaign, the contentious case now falls in his lap; Rosenstein's a-political style will be immediately tested by the hyper-political investigation.

"I am very cognizant of the fact that when I get in that job, I have national responsibilities," Rosenstein said.

In a one on one interview with ABC2 News, Rosenstein talked about his big promotion, a job he says will not sway the way he conducts and has conducted his brand of crime fighting.

"It is not a difficulty for me. I understand there are priorities that are set based on political considerations. That is appropriate, a new president and a new attorney general, they have the right to determine where to focus their resources. But when it comes down to how we conduct our investigations, who is the target and who we prosecute, those decisions need to be made in a way that is completely independent of politics. And so I don’t think it will be any different in Washington than it is here. As deputy attorney general you're more involved in policy making, but in terms of the principles of the department and how we conduct our investigations and who we prosecute...those are going to be made the way they've always been made."

And Rosenstein has the track record as the United States Attorney for Maryland.

He says while it is hard to hang his hat on one or two cases over his 12 years, he points to the indictment of 25 people and Black Guerrilla Family gang members inside the Baltimore City Jail.

There is also the most recent racketeering case against seven Baltimore city police officers as well as the 2010 prosecution of a singular criminal who terrorized parts of Prince George's County with home invasions, sexual assaults and murder taking a cadre of local and federal authorities to piece together his crime spree.

"Jason Scott was sentenced to 100 years in federal prison which is effectively a life sentence and he deserved it because he was one of the worst criminals that I personally been involved in prosecuting."

But in all those cases, Rosenstein said it was only possible with the cooperation of local and federal law enforcement.

It is a sound bite he would offer in almost every press conference he held; cooperation is a tenet to Rosenstein's crime fight and says it is no coincidence his efforts to heal rifts and sync local and federal resources helped drive down violent crime over his tenure.

But as you can see here in any violent crime chart, the last two years in both the city and the state have nearly erased that progress.

Rosenstein calls the recent violence an epidemic and begs the return of a cooperation between the state's attorney’s office, police and the feds to battle it back down.

"I don't think that is a coincidence. I think it went up because a series of traumatic events that occurred in Baltimore city in 2015 and I think it can come back down again if we all get together and we focus our resources and use the tools available to us but it is not going to be easy and it is going to require cooperation and coordination among our law enforcement agencies and it is going to require support from federal agencies as well so it is going to be a big challenge. But I am heartened by the fact that we have done it before. We know how to do it, we know it requires coordination. It requires police officers to know that police officers know what we want them to do and to have the confidence that if they do it, they are going to have our support."           

Rosenstein also addressed the Baltimore Consent Decree entered into by the city and now his Department of Justice; the consent decree, while useful in gaining trust in the community Rosenstein says, cannot solve the crime problem.

The Department of Justice plan is not a crime prevention plan he said echoing the views of his boss Attorney General Jeff Session, that responsibility is still with local law enforcement agencies and their willingness to work together and target the right individuals.