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Trump Assails Justice Department in Document Dispute


FILE - President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 1, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump is complaining about "a rigged system" in Washington, assailing his Justice Department for withholding key documents Republican lawmakers want to investigate his opponents.

"They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress," Trump said Wednesday on Twitter. "What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal 'justice?' At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!"

Trump's tweet came as conservative Republican lawmakers this week drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The No. 2 Justice Department official has refused to hand over some documents the lawmakers have sought and is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's criminal investigation of Trump's 2016 campaign's links to Russia and whether Trump has attempted to thwart the probe.

The lawmakers are attempting to investigate several controversial topics, including what basis the Justice Department used to seek special court approval for the surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and his Russian contacts during the presidential election campaign two years ago.

In addition, the lawmakers are asking for documents related to the long FBI investigation of Trump's election challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

FILE - Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and her husband former President Bill Clinton greet supporters in Chappaqua, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2016.
FILE - Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and her husband former President Bill Clinton greet supporters in Chappaqua, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2016.

Rosenstein has been a frequent Trump target for a year, ever since he assumed oversight of the Mueller probe, after his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, removed himself from involvement with the Russia investigation because of his own contacts with Moscow's ambassador to Washington during the presidential campaign.

Rosenstein said Tuesday he resolves disputes with Congress on a "case-by-case" basis.

"If we were to just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files, that would be a serious infringement on the separation of powers (between Congress and the executive branch of the government)," Rosenstein said, "and it might resolve a dispute today, but it would have negative repercussions in the long run, and we have a responsibility to defend the institution.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during an event at the Newseum, May 1, 2018 in Washington.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during an event at the Newseum, May 1, 2018 in Washington.

Rosenstein rebuffed calls from the Republican lawmakers for his impeachment.

"I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said. “We’re going to do what’s required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”

One conservative lawmaker, Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, said Rosenstein's "response to the draft articles of impeachment is reminiscent of our interactions with him over the past few months: a lot of rhetoric with little facts.”

“If he believes being asked to do his job is ‘extortion,’ then Rod Rosenstein should step aside and allow us to find a new deputy attorney general - preferably one who is interested in transparency,” Meadows said.

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