Pro-Trump conservatives draw battle lines with Rosenstein impeachment bid

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Despite pulling the articles of impeachment, Republicans may still hold a vote as to whether Rosenstein is in contempt of Congress for withholding documents.

House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke out against an effort by a small group of conservatives to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday, dooming the endeavour for now and easing a months-long standoff between House Republicans and the Justice Department. "I have the highest confidence in him".

Rosenstein insists the Justice Department is being unusually cooperative given its normal policy not to reveal any information about ongoing cases, but his adversaries in the House have accused him of stonewalling.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and House leaders rushed to the defense of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Thursday, after a coalition of conservative lawmakers launched an impeachment effort against the Justice Department official.

Republican lawmakers closely aligned with President Donald had been floating the notion of Mr. Rosenstein's impeachment for several months, citing frustration with what they see as slow-walking their inquiry into perceived political bias against President at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"I don't think we should be cavalier with this process or with this term", Ryan told reporters. Jim Jordan of OH and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, according to a release by Jordan's office.

Not all Republicans are on board with the impeachment proceedings.

Democrats have telegraphed for months that any move by Trump to oust Sessions, Rosenstein or Mueller would trigger a constitutional crisis.

GOP Lawmakers File Articles Of Impeachment Against Rod Rosenstein
House Conservatives Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein

The White House was ambivalent about whether Trump supported the effort to impeach Rosenstein.

The move comes after months of criticism aimed at the department - and the Russian Federation investigation in particular - from Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. Trump has fumed about Mueller's probe and repeatedly called it a "witch hunt", a refrain echoed by some of the lawmakers.

Rosenstein oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian election meddling and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Ross, a member of the House GOP's vote-counting team who's not running for re-election, said he can speak openly about the "heartburn" some of his colleagues feel over the assaults against Rosenstein and the Justice Department.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Ahead of a meeting with Republican House members earlier Wednesday, a DOJ official insisted that they have largely complied with the subpoenas, and are working on finding accommodations for the information and documents that still need to be turned over.

Jerrold Nadler of New York, Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Adam Schiff of California added: "It is certainly not, as its sponsors claim, a principled attempt to conduct oversight of the Department of Justice, because House Republicans have refused to conduct oversight of any aspect of the Trump administration, except where the inquiry might distract from their failed agenda, undermine law enforcement, and serve the interests of President Trump". That includes four Trump campaign advisers.

Justice Department officials maintain that lawmakers have been provided with almost all the documents requested by the House Judiciary subpoena from March and that they have been trying to accommodate incoming requests from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

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