Deputy attorney general made decision that a special counsel is needed

Rod Rosenstein stated he wants to make sure the integrity of the Department of Justice is protected and that the American people feel this case will be handled firmly and justly.
2:44 | 05/18/17

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Transcript for Deputy attorney general made decision that a special counsel is needed
As Jon reported right here on this broadcast, the white house was given just 30 minutes' notes before the justice department revealed a special counsel. The deputy attorney general who decided the special counsel was in fact needed, rod Rosenstein was on capitol hill today, making his case as to why. The president as you heard calling this the biggest witch hunt in American history. But a key Republican, tonight, with advice on the president on how he should be handling this. ABC's Mary Bruce on the hill. Reporter: Tonight, the man who appointed the special counsel to lead the Russia investigation smiling for cameras as he arrived on capitol hill. Mr. Rosenstein, the president says this is a witch hunt. Is that what this is? Reporter: Behind closed doors, deputy attorney general rod Rosenstein briefing all 100 senators on why he decided a special counsel was necessary. He said to make sure the integrity of the department of justice was protected, to make certain the American people felt this was going to be handled firmly and justly. Senator, trump just said a special counsel hurts our country terribly. He's entitled to his opinion. I would suggest to the president that one has been appointed. Honor that decision, cooperate where is appropriate. Reporter: Today it was hard to find a single Republican who backs the president's assessment. No, I think this is a serious investigation. Is this a witch hunt? I don't think I'll characterize what it is. Reporter: Rosenstein was initially invited to the hill to discuss the firing of former FBI director James Comey. The white house at first claimed the president acted on Rosenstein's recommendation, which he outlined in a memo. But trump later admitted that recommendation or not, he was going to fire the director. I was going to fire Comey. My decision. Reporter: In his press conference today, the president vented about Comey's recent testimony before congress. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. That was a poor, poor performance. So poor, in fact, that I believe -- and you would have to ask him because I don't like to speak for other people -- but I believe that's why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter. Mary Bruce with us from capitol hill tonight. We just saw there, again, the president referring to that memo from the department attorney general rod Rosenstein. But he made it clear on capitol hill to those senators that he was not the driving force behind the decision to fire Comey? Rosenstein has been eager to set the record straight. Senators tonight tells us that Rosenstein told them that he was going to fire Comey even before he wrote that memo. While we're at the white house today, the president did

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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