“Mr. Rosenstein, give Congress the McCabe memos that we asked for in July and all the other documents we’ve requested so we can all judge for ourselves,” Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, a leading DOJ critic and staunch Trump ally, wrote less than an hour after The Times’ story was published. It is still unclear how the Justice Department will handle the subpoena, but it could set the stage for another showdown between Congress and DOJ: Previous subpoenas issued by GOP Congressman Devin Nunes, another staunch Trump ally, for documents related to the Russia probe have resulted in protracted negotiations and pushback from Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who have cautioned against releasing sensitive documents in the middle of an investigation.
Trump said he has been talking to Rosenstein, who the president said had denied The Times’ story and doesn’t believe the 25th Amendment should be used to start impeachment proceedings. “He said he has a lot of respect for me,” Trump told reporters in New York. “And he was very nice and we’ll see.”
Jordan and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, meanwhile, are also calling on Rosenstein to testify before Congress. “You can’t have the head of the Justice Department (even if it’s sarcasm) talking to subordinates about recording the Commander in Chief. He needs to answer our questions,” Jordan tweeted on Monday. Meadows echoed him a day later: “You can’t have the No. 2 official at the Department of Justice making comments about wiring the president and not address it,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Rod Rosenstein must come before Congress this week, under oath, and tell the truth about his alleged statements.” He later told The Hill that if Rosenstein declines, he should resign, or else he and his colleagues will hold an impeachment vote.
House Republicans have been trying to squeeze the DOJ for information about the Russia probe for more than a year, accusing the department of corruption and demanding documents that they say will validate their suspicions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is politically motivated. Most recently, they were instrumental in pushing Trump to order the declassification of portions of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant and other documents that are part of the ongoing probe. (Trump ultimately backed off that demand.) Jordan and Meadows moved to impeach Rosenstein over the summer for allegedly failing to comply with congressional document requests, but they tabled their efforts after conversations with House GOP leadership. House Speaker Paul Ryan declared soon thereafter that he did not support impeaching Rosenstein. “I don’t think that this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said at the time.
Ryan, who is not running for reelection, signaled again on Wednesday that he did not support Republicans’ renewed efforts to haul Rosenstein before the committees. “We should let the president work it out with Rod Rosenstein,” the speaker told reporters. “I hope they have a good productive conversation, and I hope that’s helpful.” It’s not that Ryan has a soft spot for Rosenstein and wants him to stay—Ryan reportedly backed Nunes earlier this year when he was battling Rosenstein over the release of classified and sensitive law-enforcement documents related to the Russia probe.