Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Monday evening bashed James Comey as a “partisan pundit,” several days after the former FBI director criticized Rosenstein’s character.
During remarks to the Greater Baltimore Committee, Rosenstein, just days removed from his tumultuous tenure helping to lead the Justice Department for the past two years, defended his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and responded to remarks his former colleague made about him last week.
Rosenstein said that during Comey’s time as FBI director, he did not dislike him: “At the time, I admired him personally and appreciated some of his accomplishments at the FBI.”
However, Rosenstein said that Comey made some mistakes, which crossed “bright lines that should never be crossed.” The former deputy attorney general critiqued Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential race.
He went on to respond to criticism from the former FBI director, who said last week during a televised CNN town hall that he does not believe Rosenstein has “strong character.”
“But now the former director seems to be acting as a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul. I kid you not,” Rosenstein said during his remarks Monday
“That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors,” he continued.
Last week, Comey criticized Rosenstein’s character, saying that it was not “strong.” The former FBI director was expanding on an op-ed he penned for the New York Times where he said President Donald Trump “eats your soul in small bites.”
“I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment but not real sterling character, strong character, find themselves trapped,” Comey said during a CNN town hall. “Then they start telling themselves a story to try justifying their being trapped which is ‘yeah he’s awful, but the country needs me.'”
Comey added that Rosenstein and other Republicans who don’t stand up to Trump make compromises or stay silent because they believe they are needed in the long run to combat Trump.
“They become trapped, they’re not strong enough to push out of it, and they end up making comprises that they lose everything,” Comey said.
When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether he believes Rosenstein is of a strong character, Comey doubled down.
“Yeah, I don’t think he is,” the former FBI director said.
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