It was a big deal in Maryland when Rod Rosenstein was tapped to be second-in-command of the U.S. Justice Department under Donald Trump. But in a new interview with The New York Times, the president said he was miffed to learn of Rosenstein’s professional origins.
By and large, Trump used his interview with the newspaper to complain about the current state of affairs for his administration. First and foremost was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump said made an “unfair” decision for the president early on by recusing himself from the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
He eventually touched on Rosenstein, who worked in Baltimore as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland for 12 years. Trump surprised many when he nominated Rosenstein in late January to be Sessions’ deputy, given his reputation as a bipartisan prosecutor who generally stays out of the political fray. The U.S. Senate approved Rosenstein for his post in an overwhelming 94-6 vote in April.
Now it appears the president wasn’t even aware of where Rosenstein had been working. As the Times reported, “when Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from.”
“There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” Trump elaborated.
Sessions and Rosenstein had a chance to respond to their boss’ critical comments this morning during an unrelated press conference concerning a new plan targeting global cybercrime. Asked if his Baltimore roots are a “valid concern” for the president to have, Rosenstein deflected, telling reporters (per CBS News), “I was proud to be here yesterday. I’m proud to be here today. I’ll be proud to work here tomorrow.”
“I was proud to be here yesterday. I’m proud to be here today. I’ll be proud to work here tomorrow,” Rosenstein says when asked about Trump pic.twitter.com/eI8bFY3tCt
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 20, 2017
Rosenstein quickly became a major player in two of the largest controversies haunting Trump half a year into his term. He penned a recommendation for the Trump administration to fire ex-FBI Director James Comey, and appointed Robert Mueller, another ex-FBI director, to be the special investigator in the probe concerning Trump’s ties to Russia.
The latter move irked Trump, who tweeted shortly after Mueller’s appointment that the investigation had become a “witch hunt!” Mueller is reportedly investigating Trump for obstruction of justice for his firing of Comey.
In the Times piece, Trump again complained about Rosenstein’s hiring choice, saying the prosecutor was taking both sides in the investigation, and that his appointment of Mueller represented a “conflict of interest.”
It’s worth noting that while Rosenstein worked in and around Baltimore for more than a decade, he actually lives in Bethesda.