Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the Department of Justice is "not going to be extorted," amid public and private threats that he says have been leveled against him for a long time. Rosenstein made the comments during a talk at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., after reports that some conservative Republicans in Congress have drafted articles for his impeachment.
Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller last year, has come under fire from some conservatives for his leadership at the DOJ and for the investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates.
"They can't even resist leaking their own drafts," Rosenstein said, to laughs, when asked to comment on the leaked document from the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
"I saw that draft -- I mean I don't know who wrote it," Rosenstein continued. "It really does illustrate though a really important principle about the rule of law, and a distinction about how we operate in the department -- and we make mistakes, that's not to say we're flawless. But the way we operate in the Department of Justice, if we're going to accuse somebody of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence, credible witnesses, we need to be prepared to prove our case in court, and we have to affix our signature to the charging document. That's something that not something that everybody appreciates."
Rosenstein said even the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application process that some Republicans have heavily criticized require signatures of DOJ officials, and thus, some accountability.
"I just don't have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on and that they leak in that way," Rosenstein said. "But I can tell you, there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time. And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted. We're going to do what's required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job."
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on CNN Tuesday afternoon that Rosenstein's comments have "nothing to do" with the White House.
Not all Republicans are calling for Rosenstein's ouster. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, told CBS News' "Face the Nation" last month there is no basis for Mr. Trump to fire Rosenstein.