Deputy attorney general depicts latest GOP critics as cowards, vows DOJ won't be 'extorted'

Rod Rosenstein responded to articles of impeachment GOP drafted against him.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the head of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., called impeachment proceeding against Rosenstein “a last resort option, if the Department of Justice fails to respond” to his requests for documents.

Speaking Tuesday at a discussion series about "The Rule of Law" in Washington, Rosenstein said the articles as drafted and then “leaked” illustrate the difference between how the Justice Department and how politicians operate.

“That’s not to say we’re flawless,” Rosenstein insisted. “But ... if we’re going to accuse somebody of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence, credible witnesses, we need to prove our case in court, and we have to affix our signature to the charging document. That’s something that not everybody appreciates.”

If the information in the affidavit is found to be incorrect, the officer who signed it can face consequences, perhaps even prosecution, Rosenstein added.

“So that’s the way we operate. We have people who are accountable,” he said.

Nevertheless, Rosenstein said that for “quite some time” now he has been threatened privately and publicly, “and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

Rosenstein has been publicly criticized by not only Republican lawmakers but also Trump himself.

Just a few weeks ago, Trump tweeted that, "Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter)."

On Tuesday, Rosenstein said the Justice Department is "going to do what is required by the rule of law ... and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect how we do our job.”

"We have a responsibility," and federal law enforcement officials swore an oath to defend the Constitution, he said.

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