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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifoes before a House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that he does not believe members of the special counsel or FBI involved in the Russia investigation give off the appearance of impropriety for having donated to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Where things got heated: GOP members on the committee argued that several FBI agents investigating Russian collusion are biased, as seen through the anti-Trump texts sent by Peter Strzok. Rosenstein responded by stating that the DOJ recognizes they have employees with political opinions, and work to ensure they "are not in any way a factor in how they conduct themselves in office."

  • Backlash from Committee members: Multiple panel members slammed Rosenstein's response, arguing that the text messages show clear bias among investigators against Trump, which they feel will impact the Russia probe. Note that Mueller fired Strzok after learning of the text exchange.
  • Go deeper: Trump's lawyers want a second special counsel appointed to investigate the DOJ and FBI.

More from Rosenstein's testimony:

  • Rosenstein says he doesn't believe Special Counsel Robert Mueller or his team are operating outside of the scope of the Russia investigation.
  • He doesn't believe there is "good cause" to fire Mueller: I know what he's doing. If I thought he was doing something inappropriate I would take action."
  • Rosenstein said he doesn't regret hiring Mueller: "I believe based on his reputation, his service, his patriotism, and his experience with the department and with the FBI, I believe he was an ideal choice for this task."
  • Flashback: This hearing is reminiscent of Rosenstein's June testimony, when he stated that he is the only person who could fire Mueller — not even Trump. He also said there was "no secret plan" to remove Mueller, or at least, "no secret plan that involves me."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Beto not even best Dem against Abbott

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Delayed maps upend midterm campaigns

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Midterm candidates are panicking about how the congressional maps will ultimately be drawn, with several strategists telling Axios campaigns are in limbo.

Why it matters: Candidates are unsure if the district they're targeting will remain intact or be reshaped by the process. The uncertainty is especially vexing to Democrats, who are vying to maintain their narrow margin in the House.

First look: Conservatives' 2022 big target: Tax increases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.