Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) warned President Donald Trump against an obvious possible obstruction of justice as Trump hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a rally late Friday.
Lieu's comments followed the New York Times' bombshell report Friday afternoon detailing comments Rosenstein reportedly made early in Trump's presidency. According to the Times, the deputy attorney general suggested recording his conversations with the president in 2017 and said that invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office could be possible.
"None of this appeared to have been executed," Lieu told Ari Melber on MSNBC. "He didn't seem to tape anything, he didn't seem to have gone much further with the 25th amendment talk, so this would not be enough to fire Rod Rosenstein. If he did it would be obstruction of justice."
Lieu's interview came as Trump was speaking to a crowd in Springfield, Missouri, where he was endorsing the Senate run of the state's attorney general, Josh Hawley—but where he focused partially on his ongoing feud with the Justice Department over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his campaign.
"Look what's being exposed at the Department of Justice and the FBI. You have some real bad ones. You see what's happening at the FBI—they're all gone, they're all gone," Trump said, in a likely reference to former FBI Director James Comey, who he fired in 2017, and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last January.
"But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that too," Trump added.
Trump vowed to eradicate a "lingering stench" at the DOJ, hours after it was reported that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein discussed wearing a "wire" to record conversations with the President and recruiting Cabinet members to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment https://t.co/QpkgxiQrp7 pic.twitter.com/DjL7cFS3b8
— CNN (@CNN) September 22, 2018
The report, and Trump's remarks in Missouri, led to concerns that the president could fire Rosenstein in the near future, provoking government watchdog groups including Public Citizen and MoveOn.org to mobilize their supporters in anticipation of mass protests should Trump dismiss the deputy attorney general.
"If the president [fires Rosenstein], it really would be a pretext to get the Mueller investigation," Lieu said.