House Republicans shout down No. 2 Justice official in tense hearing

WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) - U.S. House Republican allies of President Donald Trump shouted and attacked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday, alleging he was improperly withholding documents related to the FBI's investigation of Trump's 2016 campaign.

The tense congressional hearing came as Republicans brought to the House floor a non-binding resolution that scolded the Justice Department for not turning over more records, a move that is widely seen as a possible precursor to holding Rosenstein in contempt of Congress. The resolution passed along party lines, 226-183.

Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, has become a frequent punching bag for Trump supporters for appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia in his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

At the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray, who were both appointed by Trump, insisted they are working to comply with congressional Republicans' demands for documents related to the investigation but Republicans did not appear convinced.

RELATED: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray testify in front of House GOP

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray testify in front of House Republicans
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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray testify in front of House Republicans
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chat before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray arrives at the West Wing of the White House for a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on FBI investigations into the 2016 Trump presidential campaign at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
FBI Director Christopher Wray waits to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray waits to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein waits to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) shakes hands with House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) before the committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein take seats before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are sworn in before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) with FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) with FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (L) listens to FBI Director Christopher Wray during a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) and FBI Director Christopher Wray testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) speaks during FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testimony before the committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leave for a break during a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) questions FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray takes a seat before a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrives at a House Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify before a congressional House Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election,' in Washington, DC, on June 28 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) and FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) testify during a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on oversight of FBI and DOJ actions surrounding the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While scheduled to discuss the Justice Department Inspector general report released this month on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Republicans were expected to use the opportunity to press for release of documents subpoenaed by the committee that detail FBI actions in 2016. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Director Christopher Wray (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify before a congressional House Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election,' in Washington, DC, on June 28 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (L), and Jim Jordan (R-OH) listen to FBI Director Christopher Wray U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testify during a House Judiciary Committee hearing June 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on oversight of FBI and DOJ actions surrounding the 2016 election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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During a hostile exchange with Representative Jim Jordan, one of Trump's major backers, Rosenstein accused him of a personal attack.

"I am the deputy attorney general of the United States," he said. .".. I'm responsible for responding to your concerns as I have. I have a team with me, sir. It's just a fraction of the team doing this work.

“So your statement that I'm personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information ..."

"You're the boss, Mr. Rosenstein," Jordan interrupted.

"That’s correct,” Rosenstein snapped back. "And my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. We have, sir."

Jordan later tried to assure the deputy attorney general his criticism wasn’t personal, to whichRosenstein responded, "Sometimes it feels that way."

 

'FINISH IT THE HELL UP'

Republican Trey Gowdy angrily demanded Rosenstein wrap up the investigation.

"If you have evidence of any wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury," he said. "If you have evidence that this president acted inappropriately, present it to the American people ... Whatever you got, finish it the hell up."

The Mueller investigation already has led to charges against Trump's former campaign chairman, his former national security adviser and several other people. Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and repeatedly called the investigation a witch hunt.

For months now, Republicans have issued subpoenas and sought documents in connection with the FBI's collusion investigation, as well as other records related to the probe of Clinton's use of a private email server. Critics say the Republicans are trying to discredit investigations of the Trump campaign.

Republicans have alleged the FBI made missteps when it applied to a special court for a warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and questioned the FBI's use of a confidential informant who reached out to several Trump campaign officials.

The department already has turned over hundreds of thousands of pages and held several briefings with members of Congress. Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the department's inspector general to investigate if there were any errors made when the FBI applied for the surveillance warrant to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Representative Matt Gaetz, another Trump ally, had a tense exchange with Rosenstein, allegingRosenstein had signed a document to authorize "spying" on the Trump campaign.

"I dispute your characterization about what that (surveillance warrant application) is about, sir," Rosenstein said. "If the inspector general finds that I did something wrong, then I will respect that judgment but I think it's highly, highly unlikely, sir."

Thursday's hearing was the first time Rosenstein has testified before Congress since the Justice Department's inspector general report that described missteps by the FBI in its handling of the investigation of Clinton's private email server use while she was secretary of state.

In his testimony, he said he was upset by the problems uncovered in the report, including texts that several FBI employees sent disparaging Trump.

"We need to correct errors, hold wrongdoers accountable and deter future violations," Rosenstein said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Trott)

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