Attorney General Jeff Sessions

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Sessions Defends Rosenstein Amid Push For Deputy AG's Impeachment

July 26, 2018 - 12:22 pm

BOSTON (WCBS 880/AP) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday defended his top deputy after a handful of Congressional Republicans moved to impeach him.

Speaking in Boston, Sessions said he has the "highest confidence" in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and described him as "highly capable" when asked about the impeachment effort.

A group of 11 House conservatives on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation because Sessions has recused himself.

Sessions, a former Republican Senator from Alabama, suggested lawmakers should instead focus on "legal challenges," such as reforming the nation's immigration system.

"There are loopholes on our laws that are being exploited," he said. "Our enforcement officers' jobs are far more difficult than they need to be. Common sense legislation can make a big difference. That's where I'd like to see them focus their efforts."

Politico reported the articles against Rosenstein were filed late Wednesday by U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), two top Trump allies.

They blame Rosenstein for what they claim was failure to respond to congressional document demands, Politico reported.

Senior Justice Department officials say there has been historic levels of cooperation with Congress in handing over files linked to the FBI investigation into Trump campaign contracts with Russia, as well as Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Politico reported.

Also Thursday, Sessions expressed regret for having laughed at a "Lock Her Up" chant and repeated the words during a speech Tuesday at a high school leadership summit in D.C.

"I perhaps should have taken a moment to advise them on the fact that you're presumed innocent until cases are made," he said when asked to comment on the chant, which is a staple of President Donald Trump's campaign rallies.

The chant refers to the FBI investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama.

Sessions was in Boston federal court Thursday to join U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling and other federal authorities in announcing 25 arrests in a federal sweep meant to crack down on document and benefit fraud.

Thursday's arrests swept up mostly Dominican nationals living in the country illegally. Prosecutors say many stole the identities of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico in order to receive health care and other federal benefits in Massachusetts.

Sessions said the actions defrauded the federal government of about $250,000 and that many of the suspects had criminal records, including a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Puerto Rico 24 years ago.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)