Schumer: DOJ nominee must commit to special prosecutor for Trump-Russia probe
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerForced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure MORE (D-N.Y.) is demanding that deputy attorney general nominee Rod Rosenstein commit during his confirmation hearing to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee any investigation into any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

"The Senate Judiciary Committee is going to have a hearing on the nomination of Mr. Rosenstein to serve as the deputy attorney general. During that hearing Mr. Rosenstein should commit to naming a special prosecutor to look into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia," he said from the Senate floor. 
 
Rosenstein is scheduled to have a hearing before the committee to be the No. 2 official at the Justice Department on Tuesday. Schumer predicted that his position on whether or not to appoint a special prosecutor would be "front and center." 
 
"If he won't appoint a special prosecutor, he'd need a darn good reason and it's hard for me to see one right now," Schumer added. "[It's] far and away the most important question he needs to answer." 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
With Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE's decision to recuse himself from any current or future probes into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Rosenstein may ultimately make decisions about a DOJ investigation into Russia.
 
Democrats are demanding that the administration either appoint a special counsel or that Congress move to create an independent commission to probe allegations that Russia meddled in the White House race to help Trump. 
 
Republicans have largely dismissed the request, with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees leading the investigations in Congress. 
 
But Schumer argued that public support and Trump's tweets over the weekend, accusing President Obama of wiretapping his phones during the campaign, bolster the need for someone outside of the Justice Department's chain of command to look into the issue. 
 
"My Republican colleagues should understand what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do," he said. "Do a strong, impartial investigation and get to the bottom of this."
 
Sixty-five percent of Americans back having a special prosecutor conduct the investigation, according to a CNN/ORC poll released earlier Monday, while 32 percent believe Congress can handle the probe. 
 
Only 43 percent of self-identified Republicans and 46 percent of self-identified conservatives back a special prosecutor, compared to 82 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of liberals, as well as 67 percent of Independents and 71 percent of moderates. 
 
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is threatening to slow walk Rosenstein's nomination if he doesn't commit to naming a special prosecutor. 
 
“I will use every possible tool to block the nomination of Rod Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General unless he commits to appoint independent special prosecutor," he said in a statement on Tuesday. 
 
Blumenthal doesn't have the ability to singlehandedly block Rosenstein's nomination, but he could use the Senate's rulebook to drag out debate over his nomination.