Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey broke agency protocol by leaking memos to the press about his meetings with President Trump.
"As a general proposition, you have to understand the Department of Justice. We take confidentiality seriously, so when we have memoranda about our ongoing matters, we have an obligation to keep that confidential," Rosenstein said on Fox News after being asked if it would ever be proper for an FBI director to take notes on a meeting with the president and then leak them to the press.
Rosenstein stressed he wouldn't answer direct questions about Comey. But when asked if he would approve of Comey's leak, he reiterated the duty of offiicals to keep things confidential. "I think it is quite clear," he said. "It's what we were taught, all of us prosecutors and agents."
The second-highest justice official defended special counsel Robert Mueller, who he appointed to oversee a probe of possible collusion between Trump's campaign associates and Russia. Rosenstein indicated the appointment was not a conflict of interest to that investigation.
"I've got to explain that I made the decision to appoint Director Mueller based upon his reputation. He had an excellent reputation. Really bipartisan support for his integrity. That's why I made that decision," Rosenstein said. "But, I can assure you that if there were conflicts that arose because Director Mueller or anybody employed by Director Mueller, we have a process within the department to take care of that."
Rosenstein was not bothered by findings that some of the people Mueller has appointed to the special counsel have made donations to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He insisted the public focus on the probe's outcome.
"The Department of Justice, we judge by results and so my view about that is, we'll see if they do the right thing," Rosenstein said.