Durbin: Rosenstein must appoint special prosecutor or resign
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (Ill. ), the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, is demanding that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein either name a special prosecutor to handle the investigation into Russia's presidential election interference or step down. 

Rosenstein wrote the memo this week that the White House initially used as its public rationale for the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia probe, including possible ties between Moscow and members of Trump's campaign. 

"To preserve his reputation as a credible prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must appoint an independent special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges, or he must resign," Durbin said in a statement. 
 
Durbin noted that in an interview with NBC News, Trump said the Russia probe was a reason for the firing.
 
"That is dangerously close to obstruction of justice," Durbin said. 
 
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The president told NBC News that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the recommendation from the Department of Justice, adding "when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats."
 
 
Trump added in the interview that he wanted to "get to the bottom" of whether or not Russia meddled in the election.
 
Durbin also pointed to Trump's tweet on Friday morning warning Comey that he hoped there weren't "tapes" of their conversation. 
 
"[This] could be construed as threatening a witness in this investigation, which is another violation of federal law," Durbin added. 
 
Trump's tweets came as he was defending inconsistencies from the administration on his decision to fire Comey. 

Democrats have doubled down on their push for the Trump administration to name a special prosecutor in the wake of Comey's firing, but, so far, neither the administration nor most GOP lawmakers are supporting their effort. 

Durbin's statement comes less than a month after the Senate voted to confirm Rosenstein to the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department. Only six senators, all Democrats, voted against his nomination. 

Democrats pressed Rosenstein during his committee hearing to weigh in on their push for a special prosecutor to look into Russia's election interference. 
 
But Rosenstein sidestepped, noting that he didn't have the underlying facts. 
 
"I'm simply not in a position to answer that," he said in response to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.