Rosenstein was a former nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. At the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney general in April 2017, he was the nation's longest-serving U.S. attorney.
President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on January 13, 2017. Rosenstein was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 2017. In May 2017, he drew scrutiny for his role in the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.
Early life and family
Rod Jay Rosenstein was born on January 13, 1965, in Philadelphia, to Robert, who ran a small business, and Gerri Rosenstein, a bookkeeper and school board president. He grew up in Lower Moreland Township, Pennsylvania. He has one sister, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who is the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta.
Education and clerkship
He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.S. in economics, summa cum laude in 1986. He earned his J.D. degree cum laude in 1989 from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
He then served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Department of Justice
After his clerkship, Rosenstein joined the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. From 1990 to 1993, he prosecuted public corruption cases as a trial attorney with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, then led by Assistant Attorney General Robert S. Mueller, III.
During the Clinton Administration, Rosenstein served as Counsel to Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann (1993–1994) and Special Assistant to Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Jo Ann Harris (1994–1995). As an Associate Independent Counsel from 1995 to 1997, he was co-counsel in the trial of three defendants who were convicted of fraud, and he supervised the investigation that found no basis for criminal prosecution of White House officials who had obtained FBI background reports.
From 2001 to 2005, Rosenstein served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He coordinated the tax enforcement activities of the Tax Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the IRS, and he supervised 90 attorneys and 30 support employees. He also oversaw civil litigation and served as the acting head of the Tax Division when Assistant Attorney General Eileen J. O'Connor was unavailable, and he personally briefed and argued civil appeals in several federal appellate courts.
United States Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia hired Rosenstein as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1997. He litigated a wide range of cases, coordinated the credit card fraud and international assistance programs and supervised the law student intern program. He also briefed and argued cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
President George W. Bush nominated Rosenstein to serve as United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland on May 23, 2005. He took office on July 12, 2005, after the Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination.
As United States Attorney, he oversaw federal civil and criminal litigation, assisted with federal law enforcement strategies in Maryland, and presented cases in the U.S. District Court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
The Attorney General appointed Rosenstein to serve on the Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, which evaluates and recommends policies for the Department of Justice. He is vice-chair of the Violent and Organized Crime Subcommittee and a member of the Subcommittees on White Collar Crime, Sentencing Issues and Cyber/Intellectual Property Crime. He also serves on the Attorney General’s Anti-Gang Coordination Committee.
In 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Rosenstein to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Rosenstein was a Maryland resident at the time. Barbara Mikulski and new Democratic Maryland senator, Ben Cardin, blocked Rosenstein's confirmation, stating that he did not have strong enough Maryland legal ties and due to this Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy did not schedule a hearing on Rosenstein during the 110th Congress and the nomination lapsed. Andre M. Davis later was re-nominated to the same seat and confirmed by the Senate in 2009.
President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on January 13, 2017. He was one of the 46 United States Attorneys ordered on March 10, 2017 to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Trump declined his resignation. Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate on April 25, 2017 by a vote of 94-6.
On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump directed Sessions and Rosenstein to make a case against FBI Director James Comey in writing. The next day, Rosenstein handed a memo to Sessions providing the basis for Sessions' recommendation to President Trump that Comey be dismissed. After presenting critical quotes from several former attorneys general in previously published op-eds, Rosenstein concluded that their "nearly unanimous opinions" was Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation was "wrong".
In his memo Rosenstein asserts that the FBI must have "a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them". He ends with an argument against keeping Comey as FBI director, on the grounds that he was given an opportunity to "admit his errors" but that there is no hope that he will "implement the necessary corrective actions."
Critics argued that Rosenstein, in enabling the firing of Comey amid an investigation into Russian election interference, damaged his reputation for independence.
After administration officials cited Rosenstein's memo as the main reason for Comey's dismissal, an anonymous source in the White House said that Rosenstein threatened to resign. Rosenstein denied the claim and said he was "not quitting," when asked directly by a reporter from Sinclair Broadcast Group.
On 17 May 2017, Rosenstein told the full Senate he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for President Trump firing Comey.
Special counsel appointment
On May 17, 2017, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to conduct the investigation into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" as well as any matters arising directly from that investigation. Rosenstein's order authorizes Mueller to bring criminal charges if the event he discovers any federal crimes.
Rosenstein said in a statement, "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."
Rod Rosenstein is married to Lisa Barsoomian, an Armenian American lawyer who works for the National Institutes of Health. They have two daughters.
As an adjunct professor, Rosenstein has taught classes on federal criminal prosecution at the University of Maryland School of Law and trial advocacy at the University of Baltimore, School of Law.
Rosenstein was a member of Bethesda’s Reform Temple Sinai from 2008 to 2014, and of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from 2001 to 2011.
According to a questionnaire he filled out ahead of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this year, Rosenstein also was a member of a Jewish Community Center Sports League from 1993 to 2012.
I would think that a Prosecutor would insist on there being some evidence identified or secured before ordering an investigation. Is this different in the FBI, because they have limitless resources? Why is the FBI different? Where are the tire tracks and finger prints? Was the crime scene contaminated? Why does “intent” matter? Will Republicans in Congress even ask these questions?
Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader