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 RosensteinHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Rosenstein: 'I never pursued' trying to record Trump Trump vows to get rid of 'stench' at DOJ, FBI MORE.

The issue boiled over when House conservatives, led by Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Graham to renew call for second special counsel 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 ClintonFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate 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 CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters 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 CollinsGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Collins 'appalled' by Trump tweet about Kavanaugh accuser Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it 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 GrahamKim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday MORE (R-S.C.), who has questioned if Rosenstein should recuse himself from the Russia probe, shot down talk of impeaching the No. 2 Justice Department official.

“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 FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the impeachment tactics are “not a good sign.”

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' North Carolina governor: We saw ‘significant damage’ in eastern part of state GOP senator on allegation against Kavanaugh: 'Why on Earth' wasn't it discussed earlier? MORE (R-N.C.), a fellow Judiciary Committee member, said House Republicans should instead go to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate 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 CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford 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 GrassleyGrassley extends deadline for Kavanaugh accuser to decide on testifying Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Kavanaugh accuser seeks additional day to decide on testimony 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 RyanHow does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act GOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign 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, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins 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 CruzFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate 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 HolderFBI, Justice Dept plan to redact Russia documents despite Trump order for full declassification: report Dem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Dem lawmaker jabs Trump call for transparency by asking for his tax returns 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.”