“You like records. This must be a record of an attorney general being proposed for contempt within 100 days of taking office,” Barr said at an event in the Justice Department’s Great Hall.
Barr also joked about Rosenstein’s deadpan expression during Barr’s controversial press conference ahead of the release of the redacted Mueller report. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at Rosenstein’s farewell event, as did FBI Director Chris Wray.
Rosenstein, whose resignation is effective on Saturday, appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel nearly two years ago. Democrats subpoenaed the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence, and moved toward holding Barr in contempt of Congress on Wednesday after the Justice Department failed to produce the requested records. President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege on the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence shortly before the House Judiciary Committee voted to refer the contempt report to the full House. Barr bailed on a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, but his failure to attend wasn’t directly related to the contempt proceeding.
Rosenstein, who endured heavy criticism from Trump for appointing Mueller as special counsel, defended his handling of the special counsel investigation, saying that political considerations didn’t impact the probe.
“Every floor of this building contains reminders for me of heroes, mentors and friends. They taught me that political considerations may influence policy decisions, but when it comes to individual cases, this department stands apart from politics,” Rosenstein said.
“The rule of law requires us to ignore partisan politics, to tune out the news cycle, and to base our decisions on credible evidence,” Rosenstein said, adding that, unlike the Justice Department, “many people have the luxury of dismissing facts that are inconsistent with their preexisting beliefs.”