A group of 11 House conservatives introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The move came Wednesday after months of criticism aimed at the department — and the Russia 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. The impeachment effort is led by North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who talks to Trump frequently and often defends him to his colleagues.
It is unclear whether there will be enough support in the party to pass the impeachment resolution, as Republican leaders have not signed on to the effort and are unlikely to back it.
Meadows, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and the other Republicans who introduced the resolution have criticized Rosenstein and Justice Department officials for not being responsive enough as House committees have requested documents related to the beginning of the Russia investigation and a closed investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The introduction does not trigger an immediate vote, but Meadows could make procedural moves on the House floor that could force a vote late this week or when the House returns in September from its upcoming recess. The House is scheduled to leave Thursday for the five-week recess.
The five articles charge Rosenstein of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for failing to produce information to the committees, even though the department has already provided lawmakers with more than 800,000 documents, and of signing off on what some Republicans say was improper surveillance of a Trump advisor.
The resolution also goes directly after Rosenstein for his role in the ongoing Mueller investigation, criticizing him for refusing to produce a memo that outlines the scope of that investigation and questioning whether the investigation was started on legitimate grounds. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was in any way involved.
It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for lawmakers to demand documents that are part of an ongoing criminal investigation.