Week ahead: Rosenstein to face questions on Russia investigation

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will journey to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to face questions about the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, as it appears to draw closer to President Trump’s White House.

Republicans have signaled the desire to question Rosenstein and other officials following reports that one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators was removed after sending anti-Trump text messages. The revelations have opened up Mueller’s team to charges of political bias from conservatives.

“I am very troubled by the recent controversy surrounding staff assigned to the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement announcing that Rosenstein would testify as part of the committee’s oversight of the Justice Department.


“Members of the House Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to ask Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about these developments since he is tasked with overseeing the special counsel’s investigation,” Goodlatte added.

Mueller’s investigation has appeared to inch closer to Trump’s inner circle with the guilty plea earlier this month from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted to lying to FBI agents about his Russia contacts.

The House and Senate Intelligence committees are both pressing forward with their parallel investigations into Russian interference, the latter of which conducted a closed-door interview with Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday.

The House committee is reportedly looking to interview a slew of additional witnesses in coming days, including Rob Goldstone, the British entertainment publicist who helped set up Trump Jr.’s June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, according to CNN.

The coming week is sure to offer new details on the debate in Congress surrounding the renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a controversial provision that allows the U.S. intelligence community to collect data on non-American targets overseas without a warrant. The matter could come up during Rosenstein’s testimony on Wednesday. 

The debate on various legislative proposals took a back seat in recent days, as lawmakers rushed to pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. The intelligence provision is set to sunset by the end of the year, and officials in the Trump administration have been pressing hard for a clean reauthorization of the program.

Meanwhile, Congress now faces a new Dec. 22 deadline to reach a deal to fund the government, which will be a major point of focus in coming days.

Cyber experts have long warned of the negative affects of a continuing resolution on cybersecurity efforts across the federal government.


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