Judicial Watch announced today it received 382 pages of documents showing former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s communications with former Obama officials, including Eric Holder and information sharing with the media in the days immediately surrounding the inception of the Mueller investigation.
These documents were obtained in response to an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Justice for all records of communications of Rosenstein between May 8 and May 17, 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00481)).
On May 15, 2017, Public Affairs Specialist Marsha Murphy sends Rosenstein an email with the subject line “Eric Holder just called for you.” The message says: “Please call him.”
On May 16, 2017, U.S. Attorney John Huber wrote to Rosenstein: “Rod, We’re proud of you.” Later that year, Huber was chosen by then-Attorney General Sessions to head up the Clinton Foundation investigation.
(On May 17, 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein as special counsel.)
The documents revealed that Rosenstein had communications with Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz that included multiple off-the-record calls, information sharing, and smoothing over arguments with the DOJ press office.
In an email exchange on May 12, 2017, with the subject line “Off the record” Horwitz complains to Rosenstein about then-DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores yelling at her and the Washington Post’s national security editor and calling a story of theirs “bullshit.” Rosenstein replies, “I will talk to Sarah.” Horwitz adds that she is “around all night if [Rosenstein wants] to talk off the record.”
In an email exchange between May 13-16, 2017, Horwitz requests that they speak off the record again. Rosenstein replied by sending her a link to a story about him in The Baltimore Sun.
On May 18, 2017, Horwitz emails Rosenstein with the subject line, “Urgent” to ask him about President Trump is the focus of an FBI investigation: “The Washington Post has been told by very good sources that President Trump is now a focus of the FBI investigation Can I please talk to you as soon as possible on deep background?”
On May 15, 2017, Rosenstein received an email from Katherine Davis, likely the 60 Minutes producer. In it, she states: “I hope you’re handling all of this craziness this week. Am sure you are. Much to discuss. FBI finalists. And whether you are considering recusing (hoping not but lmk) Lmk when I can come and visit. Next week? You know where to reach me in the meantime.”
In the days surrounding the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, Rosenstein received calls from multiple emails of support from former senior Obama administration officials.
On May 12, 2017, Rosenstein received an email from former Obama Special Counsel Jonathan Su: Hi Rod: I know there’s a lot going on right now, but I wanted to send you a note of support. If there’ s anything I can do to be of help, please let me know. Hope you hang in there.”
On May 13, 2017, he received a similar supportive email from former Obama White House Deputy Associate Counsel Mike Leotta with the subject line “Thinking of you and your family.” The message says: “I hope you’re hanging in there, [redacted] despite all the press attention, attacks, and contradictory claims.”
On May 14, 2017, Rosenstein emailed Judge Brett Kavanaugh for Senior D.C. District Court Judge John D. Bates’ cell phone number, three days before the appointment of Robert Mueller.
On May 16, 2017, Rosenstein received a supportive email from former Obama Deputy Attorney General, James Cole: “You have the right approach. I always found that if you concentrated on doing your job (protecting the constitution) your reputation takes care of itself.”
On May 16, 2017, the day before Mueller was appointed, scheduling emails indicate that Rosenstein spoke with both Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).
The day after the special counsel appointment, on May 18, 2017, Judge Bates sent an email to Rosenstein with the subject line “Great move” and the message “Well done.”
On May 20, 2017, Rosenstein requests a phone call with Obama’s former Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, who was also Al Gore’s co-counsel in Bush v. Gore and recently published the book, Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.
“These astonishing emails show that Rod Rosenstein had many Obama/Clinton and media friends supporting him around the time he infamously appointed Robert Mueller,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
These records are the latest in Judicial Watch’s ongoing investigation into the activities of Rosenstein.
In October 2019, Judicial Watch released Rosenstein’s communications from this lawsuit that included a one-line email Mueller stating: “The boss and his staff do not know about our discussions”, as well as “off the record” emails with major media outlets around the date of Mueller’s appointment.
In September 2019, through a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch released records from the Department of Justice showing officials’ efforts in responding to media inquiries about DOJ/FBI talks allegedly invoking the 25th Amendment to “remove” President Donald Trump from office and Rosenstein offering to wear a “wire” to record his conversations with the president. Later that month, Judicial Watch uncovered a two-page memo, dated May 16, 2017, by then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe detailing how Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire into the Oval Office “to collect additional evidence on the president’s true intentions.” McCabe wrote that Rosenstein said he thought it was possible because “he was not searched when he entered the White House.”