Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's planned interview with House Judiciary and Oversight Committee leaders on Wednesday has been postponed amid complaints from Rosenstein's most vocal Republican critics over the format of the interview.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy said in a statement Wednesday they were postponing the interview because they would be "unable to ask all questions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein within the time allotted for tomorrow's transcribed interview."
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"Mr. Rosenstein has indicated his willingness to testify before the Judiciary and Oversight Committees in the coming weeks in either a transcribed interview or a public setting," the lawmakers said. "We appreciate his willingness to appear and will announce further details once it has been rescheduled."
A Justice Department official said the committees decided they had to postpone the meeting. The meeting was scheduled at the time the committees had requested, the official said, and Rosenstein is willing to reschedule in the coming weeks. Several options are under discussion, according to the official.
Rosenstein had been scheduled to be interviewed in a classified setting by the Republicans and Democrats who lead the Judiciary and Oversight Committees: Goodlatte and Gowdy and ranking Democrats Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings. A transcript of the interview was to be released after it was reviewed by the intelligence community, the committees said last week.
But that format excluded rank-and-file committee members from the proceedings, including leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who have proposed impeaching Rosenstein — and expressed their anger over the setup.
"That is completely unacceptable for those of us who have been involved in this issue now," Jordan said last week.
Jordan said he had expressed his concerns to Goodlatte about the arrangement and would lobby for it to be changed.
Rosenstein's interview would have come after he appeared to be on his way out of the Justice Department last month amid the fallout from the comments about wearing a wire and the 25th Amendment, only to see a meeting with Trump delayed.
After the two finally spoke aboard Air Force One earlier this month, Trump said he had no plans to fire Rosenstein.
Trump may have backed off Rosenstein, but his congressional allies have not, with demands for his testimony to explain his comments.
The fight is only the latest showdown between Rosenstein and Trump's congressional allies, who have feuded for months about document requests related to the congressional probe into the FBI and Justice Department, sparking the initial calls for Rosenstein's impeachment.
Rosenstein's critics have pressed Goodlatte to subpoena Rosenstein, instead of allowing him to voluntarily appear under Wednesday's planned setting. Meadows last week called for Rosenstein to step down immediately, hours before the interview was announced, charging that Rosenstein was avoiding congressional oversight.
"He has not cooperated with Congress, failed to be transparent about his actions, and shown a lack of candor in the way he's characterized a number of events," the North Carolina Republican tweeted at the time.
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