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Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Greg Nash/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is testifying Wednesday before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the origins of the Russia investigation amid allegations of misconduct by law enforcement.

The big picture: Rosenstein, the first witness to testify in the investigation led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, defended his decision to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey in an opening statement.

  • Rosenstein argued that appointing a special counsel was the best way to ensure public confidence into the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
  • He also acknowledged that there were "significant errors" in the FBI's applications for wiretaps on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, but said that each application that he approved "appeared to be justified based on the facts that it alleged" at the time.

Read Rosenstein's opening statement.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Aug 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump mulled "settling" with Mueller amid Russia investigation

Cover: Random House

One of the crazy nuggets in a deeply reported book by the N.Y. Times' Michael Schmidt — "Donald Trump v. the United States," out tomorrow — is that President Trump mulled the idea of "settling" with special counsel Robert Mueller.

What he's saying: "At one point, as the investigation seemed to be intensifying," Schmidt writes, Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn "that there was nothing to worry about because if it was zeroing in on him, he would simply settle with Mueller. He would settle the case, as if he were negotiating terms in a lawsuit."

Trump offered FBI director job to John Kelly, asked for loyalty

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The day after President Trump fired FBI boss James Comey, the president phoned John Kelly, who was then secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and offered him Comey's job, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Schmidt reports in his forthcoming book, "Donald Trump v. The United States."

Driving the news: "But the president added something else — if he became FBI director, Trump told him, Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him."

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.