Rosenstein quotes Mueller in commencement address

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon MORE quoted special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE in remarks at the University of Baltimore School of Law commencement on Monday, emphasizing the need to stand by one’s principles when under pressure.

“You need to be prepared to compromise when you can do so without violating your principles,” Rosenstein said during remarks Monday afternoon. “Of course, you will face pressure to compromise on things that matter most, perhaps even to trade virtue for the appearance of virtue. But you should exercise caution when circumstances tempt you to disregard principles.”

“As Robert Mueller once said, ‘There [may] come a time when you will be tested. You may find yourself standing alone, against those you thought were trusted colleagues. You may stand to lose [all that] you have worked for. And [it may] not be an easy call,’ ” Rosenstein continued.


Rosenstein went on to advise the crowd of graduates that they would look back positively on difficult moments in which they stood their ground to defend their principles.

“Principles exist precisely for those moments. When you grow old and reflect on times you stood firmly for what was right although it was painful and costly, the most difficult occasions may rank among your finest moments,” Rosenstein said.

Monday’s address marked Rosenstein’s first public appearance as a private citizen since stepping down from his post in the Trump administration just 48 hours earlier. Rosenstein withstood intense public scrutiny throughout his 16-month tenure as deputy attorney general, first for his role in authoring a memo used to justify James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden is the least electable candidate — here's why Top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann lands book deal Trump to appear on 'Meet the Press' for first time as president MORE’s firing as FBI director and later for his appointment of Mueller as special counsel and oversight of the investigation into Russian interference.

Rosenstein quipped about the attention he attracted on Monday, sharing an anecdote in which he assured his daughter that deputy attorney general would be a “low-profile job.”

“Before I went to Washington in 2017, my daughter asked whether I would get my picture in the newspaper. I said no. I told her that deputy attorney general is a low-profile job. Nobody knows the deputy attorney general,” Rosenstein said Monday afternoon, prompting chuckles from the crowd.  “I was mistaken about that.”

“I knew when I started that deputy attorney general is usually a controversial job. It is one of those jobs where you frequently need to make decisions that leave someone aggrieved,” Rosenstein continued. “One of my predecessors gave me some wise advice. He said, “In this job, you will never be more popular than on your first day.’ He was right about that.”

Rosenstein, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland, was a little-known figure before President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE tapped him as the No. 2 Justice Department official at the beginning of his administration. Rosenstein worked under Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' Time magazine: Trump threatened reporter with prison time MORE and, after Sessions resigned at Trump’s request, under Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Supreme Court set to deliver ruling on census citizenship question Trump: 'I think I win the election easier' if Democrats launch impeachment proceedings MORE.

Rosenstein fell under fire from both Republicans and Democrats at various points during his time in the Trump administration.

An explosive report in The New York Times last September that Rosenstein suggested secretly taping Trump and recruiting other Cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment to expel the president from office triggered massive speculation he would be fired. But Rosenstein, who fiercely criticized the Times’s account, managed to hang on.

It was long expected that Rosenstein, who tapped Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, would leave soon after the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation. Rosenstein submitted his resignation letter to Trump on April 29, less than two weeks after Barr released a redacted version of Mueller’s final report.