The firing of James Comey as FBI director thrust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a figure previously little known outside Washington's political circles, into the spotlight, The Hill reported Monday.
It was a memo Rosenstein wrote at the request of the White House that administration officials said played a part in President Donald Trump's decision to fire Comey, although the president later maintained he was going to fire him "regardless of the recommendation."
That memo, and Rosenstein's involvement as leading the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, raised suspicions about his motives for suggesting Trump fire Comey.
Rosenstein, a 27-year Justice Department veteran, was a figure who previously enjoyed bi-partisan support in a political climate that's become increasingly divisive under Trump's administration. Rosenstein is now referred to as "one of the most polarizing figures in Washington," according to The Hill.
Rosenstein is not without supporters, but critics continue to weave a narrative focusing on the presumption the Trump White House was attempting to bury the Russian investigation, abetted by Rosenstein's memo criticizing Comey's performance when he made public statements about the investigation into the email scandal of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"I've now read Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memo three times. With each read I've become more troubled by the contents of this unusual document," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement.
Rosenstein initially argued against appointing a special counsel in the Russia investigation, and White House officials supported his position.
"We don't think it's necessary," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Thursday. "You've got the deputy attorney general, who I would say is about as independent as it comes, due to the fact that he has such bipartisan support."
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