WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate has confirmed Rod Rosenstein, a 52-year-old career prosecutor, as the next deputy attorney general, effectively putting him in charge of the Russia hacking investigations.
Rosenstein’s nomination was confirmed with a vote of 94-6 on Tuesday. The six Senators voting against Rosenstein were all Democrats.
As the No. 2 Justice Department official, Rosenstein will be in charge of the department's day-to-day operations and oversee the investigations of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. Attorney General Jeff sessions last month recused himself following reports of undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington.
During his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Rosenstein sidestepped questions on whether he too should recuse himself from the Russia probes and instead appoint a special prosecutor.
"I'm simply not in a position to answer that," he said.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Rosenstein had agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to lead the investigations should there be a need for one.
“With respect to the executive branch investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr. Rosenstein committed to me he would appoint a special counsel to conduct that investigation if one is required," Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Rosenstein's career spans a 14-year stint in senior positions at the Justice Department and nearly 12 years as the top federal prosecutor for the state of Maryland.
In 2005, he was nominated by former President George W. Bush to serve as the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, and he went on to become the longest-serving U.S. attorney.
Rosenstein led the investigation into former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright's leaking of classified information to journalists. Cartwright pleaded guilty last year, but was pardoned by former President Barack Obama.
Rachel Brand, Trump’s pick for Associate Attorney General, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, has yet to be confirmed.