Senate GOP shoots down talk of impeaching Rosenstein

Senate GOP shoots down talk of impeaching Rosenstein

Senate Republicans are throwing cold water on House talk of trying to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinMcCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on From border to Mueller, Barr faces challenges as attorney general Senate Dem: 25th Amendment talks don't reflect 'some deep state conspiracy' MORE.

The issue boiled over when House conservatives, led by Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.), introduced an impeachment resolution this week as part of an effort to force the Justice Department to hand over documents tied to the probe of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on MORE’s private email server and the FBI’s decision to launch its investigation into Russia's election interference.

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Meadows ultimately backed down, for now, after meetings with House leadership. He said that while he was giving the Justice Department “one last chance,” the impeachment option remains on the table.

But Senate Republicans warned Thursday that such an effort — if it could muster up enough support to pass the House — would be a non-starter in their chamber.

“I don’t make much of it,” said Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee who has become a vocal critic of the administration. “I think everybody realizes there is nothing to it.”

When asked if he thought an impeachment resolution was an effective way to get documents from the administration, he joked: “It seems like if you have 13 signatures it wouldn’t be very effective.”

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called talk of trying to impeach Rosenstein “totally unjustified.”

“It is a total misuse of the impeachment process,” she said, adding that she supports Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation.

Rosenstein’s fate is the latest flashpoint between House and Senate Republicans, who have increasingly split over the Russia probe. GOP members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have publicly kept their House counterparts at arm’s length, arguing the House probe has dissolved into partisan bickering.

And while impeachment proceedings would have to start in the House, the Senate would be responsible for holding a trial and would need two-thirds support to remove Rosenstein from office.

The chamber voted 94-6 to confirm him last year. The six “no” votes came from Democrats.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: More urgent for kids in Kentucky to have secure border than new school 
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“I'd probably be in the NBA playing basketball and not worrying about that,” Graham, who is about 5’7”, told reporters this week about the chances that the Senate acts on a potential House-passed impeachment resolution.

GOP. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the impeachment tactics are “not a good sign.”

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration GOP senator dedicates heart photo to wife from Senate floor for Valentine's Day MORE (R-N.C.), a fellow Judiciary Committee member, said House Republicans should instead go to President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE to get him to declassify documents.

“We know it’s not going to end in anything but theater,” Tillis said of the impeachment resolution. “But if they want an outcome it's within the president's power to do it.”

Rosenstein has long been a target of the president and his allies on Capitol Hill because of his decision to appoint Mueller. He sparked further anger from conservatives by approving of the raid on Michael Cohen’s offices and refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate the Russia probe. Conservatives also argue that Rosenstein should have recused himself from the Russia investigation because he signed off on a warrant for continued surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Sessions, who remains beloved by his former Senate GOP colleagues, defended Rosenstein on Thursday during an event in Boston, calling him “highly capable.”

And Senate Republicans, while noting they think the Justice Department should cooperate with requests from Congress, stressed they support Rosenstein.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Texas), a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, said House members have been “effective” at getting documents, but he couldn't support impeachment.

“I think they ought to keep the pressure up to get the documents they’re entitled to, but to me that’s a bridge too far,” he said.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he thought Rosenstein didn’t “have a good excuse” for not handing over documents.

“Even though I think Rosenstein should stay on the job, I think he’s not delivering the way he ought to,” Grassley said.

Republican leaders have tamped down talk of impeaching Rosenstein as they try to balance frustration from Trump and their conservative flanks without interfering in Mueller’s probe into potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

"I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or this term," House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters at his weekly news conference. "I don't think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors."

Ryan also pointed to how impeachment could affect the Senate, saying it could delay the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by tying the chamber “in knots.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved MORE (R-Ky.) shot down a question last week on the push to impeach Rosenstein and a potential Senate trial.

“I'm not going to address a hypothetical like that,” he said. “I think it's pretty far-fetched and probably not worthy of comment.”

No Republican senator has endorsed impeaching Rosenstein. But not everyone rushed to his defense amid attacks from House conservatives.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzEl Chapo's lawyer fires back at Cruz: 'Ludicrous' to suggest drug lord will pay for wall Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again MORE (R-Texas) was mum on impeaching Rosenstein, noting it was up to the House, though he said “a great many people” were frustrated with the Justice Department.

“It should be a call to action to the Department of Justice and to the FBI to be cooperative with Congress and to respond to the important oversight responsibilities that Congress has,” he said when asked about the impeachment effort.

Cruz sidestepped a question about whether he supports Rosenstein, saying the Justice Department had traditionally been apolitical but “we are witnessing the consequences of eight years of politicized justice under Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderOcasio-Cortez to be first guest on new Desus and Mero show Holder says he will make 2020 decision in coming weeks Holder: If Trump directed Cohen to lie, impeachment proceedings ‘must begin’ MORE and Loretta Lynch, and those consequences continue to this day.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) declined to comment on the impeachment effort and whether he supports Rosenstein remaining in his post. He added, more broadly, that he thought it was time for Mueller to conclude his investigation.

“Look, it’s time to be wrapped up,” Perdue said. “I mean, the original charge was very clear. He’s demonstrated he’s gotten the information about that. The American people deserve to have what they’ve found.”