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Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hit back at ex-FBI director James Comey for questioning his conduct after the release of the Mueller report, in a speech to the Greater Baltimore Committee Monday.

"The former director is a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul. That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Generally, we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony."

Context: In an opinion piece for the New York Times last week, Comey asked how Rosenstein could "give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law" following the release of Mueller's report, which he said detailed President Trump’s determined efforts to obstruct justice.

Why it matters: Rosenstein wrote the letter that Trump used as a basis to fire Comey in May 2017, as the Russia investigation intensified. Comey's firing was a key aspect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead the investigation.

  • In his first public speech since stepping down as deputy attorney general, Rosenstein told the GBC it was Comey's handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email investigation in 2016 that was a defining professional error. He expressed some sympathy for the former FBI director but said, "There are bright lines that should never be crossed."
"If I had been the decision-maker, the removal would have been handled very differently, with far more respect and far less drama, so I do not blame the former director for being angry."

Go deeper: Timeline: Every big move in the Mueller investigation

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.

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