WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) – The man who will likely head up the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday for his confirmation hearing.
Democrats asked Deputy Attorney General nominee Rod Rosenstein he planned to step aside and leave the Russia matter in the hands of a special counsel.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last week from any investigations touching the Trump campaign following revelations of his undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Under questioning from senators, Rosenstein would not commit to recusing himself. He said he wasn’t familiar with the facts of any investigation and was unaware of any requirement that he abandon oversight.
He was then questioned on how he would conduct investigations into possible connections between then president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign aides and Russian officials.
Republicans countered that Rosenstein was perfectly capable of leading the investigation.
“I know of no reason to question his judgment, his integrity or his impartiality,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The White House has called on Congress to expand its investigation to include Trump’s allegation that President Barack Obama illegally wiretapped Trump Tower during the election.
FBI Director James Comey has asked the Department of Justice to refute that claim but so far they have remained silent.
“We all know Director Comey is not shy and that he’s willing to speak publicly when he feels that he should and wants to,” said senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway.
But some Republicans believe it should be the president that needs to speak up.
“I think the president of the United States should provide any evidence that he might have that would corroborate the charge of this seriousness,” said Senator John McCain, R-Arizona.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)