Rosenstein to testify next week

Rosenstein to testify next week
© Greg Nash

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is set to go before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday — just a day ahead of former FBI Director James Comey's first congressional testimony before the panel since his abrupt firing last month.

Rosenstein will join acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down MORE at the hearing to discuss the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendments that are set to expire later this year.

Rosenstein was a key figure in Comey's firing, having authored the primary memo cited by President Trump in his May 9 letter to the top cop notifying him of his termination. In that memo, Rosenstein argued that Comey had handled the FBI's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE's use of a private email server unprofessionally and had damaged his agency's credibility.

But Rosenstein revealed to lawmakers during a briefing last month that he was aware that Trump had decided to oust Comey before he prepared the memo. That account has been confirmed by Trump himself, who said that he would have fired Comey "regardless" of Rosenstein's recommendation.

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Comey's abrupt firing drew widespread backlash from Democrats and some Republicans who questioned Trump's timing and reasoning for the decision. At the time, Comey was charged with leading the FBI's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Eight days after Comey was fired, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the FBI's Russia probe.

When the former FBI director testifies on Thursday, he is expected to tell lawmakers that Trump had asked him in February to end his agency's probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign just 24 days into office amid revelations that he had misled Vice President Pence about his conversations with Russia's ambassador.

The hearing that Rosenstein will appear at, however, is not intended to discuss Comey's firing. Rather, lawmakers will question the deputy attorney general and other top officials about Section 702 of FISA, which allows intelligence officials to monitor the communications of foreign targets.

The surveillance program has become the subject of controversy in recent months after Trump claimed that the U.S. intelligence community surveilled his presidential campaign and that Obama administration officials improperly "unmasked" the identities of campaign aides caught up in surveillance.