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Democrats Frankel, Deutch: Rosenstein briefing to House unsatisfactory

Two Palm Beach County Democrats accused U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of being evasive after Rosenstein gave a closed-door briefing to U.S. House members Friday on President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“What briefing? It was disappointing,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. “I’ll just say this flat out: Not only did he not satisfactorily answer, he just did not answer any questions put to him by Democratic members.”

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, also voiced frustration after the Rosenstein briefing.

“I’m very concerned, given his refusal to answer some very straightforward questions. There are many more questions I have after the briefing,” Deutch said.

Both Frankel and Deutch applauded Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russian interference and potential collusion with the Trump campaign. But both Democrats say Congress should also appoint an independent commission to investigate the matter.

Rosenstein drafted a memo critical of Comey that the Trump administration initially cited as the reason Trump fired Comey on May 9. Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt “regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Frankel said Rosenstein told House members that he was aware Comey was going to be fired before he wrote his memo, but wouldn’t answer other questions about it.

“He deflected on every question,” Frankel said.

Added Deutch: “The question isn’t whether he knew he (Comey) was going to be fired anyway. The question is whether he was told to write a memo and what to include in it.”

Frankel said an independent commission is needed because “Mueller can be fired. Rosenstein can be fired by Trump…We need to have some people who are investigating this who are not able to be fired by the president. That’s basically what it comes down to.”

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