White House spokesman brushes off Rosenstein's extortion comments

The White House on Tuesday brushed off Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinEx-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' Mueller questioned by TV journalist over details of report Cummings: Barr acting like 'defense counsel' for Trump rather than AG MORE's assertion that the Justice Department would not be "extorted," saying that the remark had "nothing to do with" the administration.

"You're going to have to ask Mr. Rosenstein about that. That has nothing to do with us," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on CNN. 

Speaking at the Newseum in Washington earlier Tuesday, Rosenstein responded to a question about the articles of impeachment that had been drafted against him by congressional allies of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE


"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," Rosenstein said.

The remark raised speculation about whether Rosenstein may have been referring to Trump, who has publicly criticized the deputy attorney general, particularly for his role overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Gidley, however, rejected that suggestion. 

"Obviously you're going to have to ask Congress about their willingness to draft these articles of impeachment," Gidley said. "But obviously, that has nothing to do with us here at the White House. We're moving along and cooperating in every way possible."

Trump has long bristled at the Russia investigation, which is being carried out by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE. Rumors have swirled for months that Trump could move to dismiss Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last year.