MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa (CBS) — The dismissal of FBI Director James Comey has left the number-two man at the Justice Department in the spotlight.
The White House credits the Montgomery County native for being the president’s “catalyst” on the fate of the FBI director after an Oval Office meeting Monday.
That’s left some Democrats seething.
While the White House says the firing came after “erosion of confidence” in his lawman by the president, the final call from Mr. Trump came after an Oval Office meeting Monday with two top Justice Department officials — one of them, a native of Lower Moreland.
According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, the president directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, to put in writing why they felt Comey needed to go.
Of Rosenstein’s memo, Sanders says “that was, I think, the final piece that moved the president to make that quick and decisive action.”
The Rosenstein letter outlined — in Sanders’ words — “atrocities” committed by Comey in “circumventing the chain of command” in the Justice Department.
“When [Rosenstein] saw that, he had to speak up,” Sanders told the White House press briefing room on Wednesday.
Still, questions about the investigation by the FBI into the Trump team’s ties to Russia swirl around the circumstances of Comey’s sacking.
(Rosenstein:) “My dad ran a small business in Philadelphia…”
At his Senate hearing in March, Rosenstein noted his Lower Moreland roots, but Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was more interested in Russia.
“Are you willing to appoint a special counsel to examine Russian interference in our elections and other criminal activity?” Leahy asked.
“I’m willing to appoint a special counsel, senator, whenever I determine it’s appropriate based upon the policies and procedures of the Justice Department,” replied Rosenstein.
Rosenstein sailed through confirmation to become deputy attorney general.
Despite top Democrats accusing Rosenstein of undermining the FBI’s Russia probe, Sanders says such bipartisan support negates the need for a special prosecutor.
“We encourage them to complete this investigation… There’s no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Sanders says.