A group of House Republicans introduced articles of impeachment in an attempt to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is responsible for overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The impeachment proceedings come after Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) and attorney Joe DiGenova, whom President Donald Trump almost hired, introduced the idea on Fox News in late March and early April. Since then, Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs have consistently pushed for Rosenstein’s removal, regularly hosting members of Congress and pundits to sound off and advocate for impeachment proceedings to begin.
House Freedom Caucus begins impeachment proceedings against Rosenstein
House Freedom Caucus introduces articles of impeachment to remove Rosenstein. From the July 26 edition of The New York Times:
A group of House Republicans escalated their feud with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, on Wednesday, introducing articles of impeachment in a long-shot bid to oust the official overseeing the special counsel inquiry into Russian election interference.
The move was seen as much as a political maneuver as an act of congressional oversight. The group of 11, led by Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, would need the support of a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mr. Rosenstein. The resolution they filed does not require the entire House to vote before Congress adjourns for its summer recess on Friday. [The New York Times, 7/25/18]
Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Trump’s almost-attorney Joe DiGenova floated the idea of impeaching Rosenstein in March and April
Nunes hinted at impeaching DOJ and FBI officials in March. From the March 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): In January of 2017, then President-elect Trump was told by [then-FBI Director] James Comey the dossier is salacious and unverified.
But three months earlier he is using it and the FBI is using it as the bulk of an application for a FISA warrant against the campaign associate of Donald Trump in the lead-up to a presidential election, which allows them to then spy on the emails of an opposition party candidate.
This is not a game. This is now, to me, the biggest abuse of power scandal we have had in history. You get these ridiculous people on the left making insane Watergate analogies. But Watergate was a cheap break-in, a third-rate break-in.
This is about the powerful tools of intelligence. This is about the FBI and DOJ exonerating a presidential candidate from crimes we know that were committed. Then using Russian information that they didn't verify, not telling a FISA court the whole truth. It's like, what do we need to get the wheels of justice really churning here? Because I know I'm fed up, and my audience is fed up.
DEVIN NUNES: Yes. So there's a lot of irony in that, right. So, the left has continued to say that this is Watergate and Trump’s going to be impeached. They've continued that. Well, now this has effectively boomeranged on them. And you have at least I think half of the American people now know that the other party, the Democrats appear like they weaponized to some degree the intelligence services by using the foreign intelligence surveillance apparatus in this country to go and target the opposition campaign is totally unacceptable. And that's what happened here.
And so people are beginning to learn the truth. So, I am happy that Bob Goodlatte subpoena these 1.2 million documents. But I said this earlier in the week. We need those documents like yesterday. Yesterday we needed those documents.
And what, I think now the difference where we were from a few months ago because of the obstruction, because of the cover-up the pressure that the American people are now putting on Congress by making everybody aware of this, asking their congressmen why is it that the Department of Justice can stonewall Congress for this long.
I believe that Bob Goodlatte's subpoena is going to be enforced. I think we're going to get all of the documents. And if we don't, then we should move quickly to contempt and then we should move to impeachment. One of the mistakes we made is we never impeached Lois Lerner [former director of Exempt Organizations Unit for the IRS] and we never impeached [former IRS Commissioner John] Koskinen. Had we done that we won't be here today.
HANNITY: They got away with it.
NUNES: They got away with it.
HANNITY: Do you have faith in the inspector general because now he's going to be investigating the FISA abuses as he announced today. I'm frustrated because we've been all over this story since your memo came out.
But if I was James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates tonight, Rod Rosenstein, Strzok and Page, Andrew McCabe, I would be very worried tonight based on the possibility that all of this is coming out. And if we had an honest inspector general, then I am thinking that some of them might be in legal jeopardy in a big way. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/28/18]
On Justice with Judge Jeanine, Rep. Mark Meadows explicitly said the House would move to impeach Rod Rosenstein: “A tool in our toolbox is impeachment.” From the April 7 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:
JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): I hear there’s 1.2 million documents. You guys have been demanding them for months and months and months and now, you had a return on the execution -- return on a warrant. They gave you nothing.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): They gave us absolutely nothing and the president has a right to be frustrated. I am frustrated. But you know what, enough with the talk.
PIRRO: So, what are you going to do?
MEADOWS: Here’s the next two things that we have to do, is we have given a very short deadline. I have given a deadline of this week. We need to see the documents --.
PIRRO: But the deadline was Thursday.
MEADOWS: -- But the easiest thing for them to do at this particular point, Rod Rosenstein can call Michael Horowitz who has the documents and say, “Just give them to Congress.” If he doesn't do that, if he is -- and you are right, he avoided the subpoena. The deadline came and went, all we got was a phone call.
And I think what we have to do is -- there is a growing consensus of holding them in contempt of Congress, but it's not enough to just stop there. We have to have someone who is actually willing to do the job.
And if the deputy attorney general is not willing to do it and not willing to allow us to have our constitutional oversight authority supported, then we'll find someone who can.
And what I am here to tell you is I am fed up. I have had enough. My good friend Jim Jordan is fed up. I talked to him earlier today. We are going to not only demand answers but we are going to demand action.
PIRRO: Today is Saturday.
PIRRO: By next Friday, if you don't get what you want?
MEADOWS: I think what you will see is not just Jim and I, but Chairman Nunes, a number of others, will actually go to really those areas that we have within our purview under the constitution to compel them to actually produce the documents.
PIRRO: And if they don't, how do you get rid of Rosenstein?
MEADOWS: Well, I think the first area is really a contempt of Congress, but certainly.
PIRRO: But Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress and nothing happened.
MEADOWS: One of the things that we have -- a tool in our toolbox is impeachment. It's a privilege motion. Any member of Congress can bring that.
PIRRO: I like that.
PIRRO: All right, I like that. Did you hear that, folks? Impeachment. Congressman Mark Meadows, thanks so much for being with us tonight. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 4/7/18]
Two days after Meadows floated the idea of impeaching Rosenstein, Trump’s almost-attorney Joe diGenova called on Congress to impeach the deputy attorney general. From the April 7 edition of Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight:
LOU DOBBS (HOST): What should Congress do? They have, now, a rogue Justice Department and FBI not meeting the constitutional, congressional demands of oversight?
JOE DIGENOVA: Right. It's a no-brainer, they should hold Rosenstein and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray in contempt of Congress, and if they don't produce the documents, they should move to impeach both of them.
VICTORIA TOENSING: And not go to court, they should do this on their own rules.
DIGENOVA: Yes, forget going to court to enforce their subpoena. That -- that involves a third party of the court. They have the power to hold them in contempt, they should, and then they should impeach them and remove them from office. This is -- this is arrogance of a type and kind and degree that we have never seen from people in the FBI and Justice Department. [Fox Business Network, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 4/9/18]
Rep. Nunes on The Ingraham Angle: “They can either cough them up now or it will get really complicated starting tomorrow night and we will have to take all the steps necessary in order to get the documents.” From the April 10 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Robert Costa from The Washington Post is speculating tonight on Twitter that you are on the verge of moving to hold Christopher Wray and Rod Rosenstein in contempt of Congress. And you -- we have a deadline of tomorrow apparently to get this information. Is this a real possibility?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): I can tell you this, we are going to get the document. We are going to get the two pages. They can either cough them up now or it will get really complicated starting tomorrow night and we will have to take all the steps necessary in order to get the documents.
INGRAHAM: What are you thinking might be in this document? I mean, are you going to -- inten from the beginning -- , I mean, an early insurance policy if Trump were actually the nominee or the ultimate victor.
NUNES: Well, here's our challenge with this. So, if you believe what's in The New York Times and Washington Post, sometimes they actually do get leaked information.
INGRAHAM: Getting a lot lately.
NUNES: In that leaked information that came out in December 30th, I think, of this year was the information on an Australian diplomat talking to [former member of the Trump 2016 campaign George] Papadopoulos.
That's what they say is in the EC [electronic communication]. But we haven't been able to see the EC to confirm it. So, somehow The New York Times has it. The American people have read it, but the U.S. Congress does not have that information, and we have the full right to that information.
INGRAHAM: Are you disturbed by some of these leaks that seemed to be emanating from the special counsel's office or from the U.S. Attorney's Office of Southern District of New York about the intent of what that raid on the Cohen office was, what they were really looking for, what they are speculating? Seems like a lot of information came out yesterday in the last 24 hours.
NUNES: The bigger problem I have about the leaks, and i’ll say this for the one hundredth time, the special counsel I would've thought would've got to the felony leaks of Gen. [Michael] Flynn's name being leaked to the press with very, very high-level information. And so it seems like the special counsel is good at leaking, but not so good at actually finding major felony leakers.
INGRAHAM: What are the chance you are going to hold them in contempt of Congress right now?
NUNES: Well, I could just tell you that we are not going to just hold in contempt. We will have a plan to hold in contempt and to impeach.
INGRAHAM: To impeach Christopher Wray?
INGRAHAM: Rod Rosenstein?
NUNES: We are not messing around here. They are going to give these two (inaudible) documents. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/10/18]
Hannity, Pirro, and Dobbs have been the driving forces behind the push to remove Rosenstein, discussing impeaching the deputy attorney general regularly over the last month
Hannity: “I hope you do hold them in contempt, and if it means impeachment, then that must be done.” From the July 18 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So this is what I want to ask you: Do you think they’re trying to literally -- as you said that you believe the FBI and DOJ, they're are obstructing in terms of doing what is their -- what your authority, constitutionally, is oversight, and they have been obstructing the entire way, and now there is talk about actually impeaching Rod Rosenstein, and there’s talk about holding these people in contempt.
I hope you do hold them in contempt, and if it means impeachment, then that must be done. Otherwise, no congressional subpoena will ever have any teeth to it, ever. It will be the end of it. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/18/18]
Rep. Matt Gaetz on Hannity: “We ought to demand the documents” from the Department of Justice, “or we out to begin the impeachment procedure.” From the July 3 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
JEANINE PIRRO (GUEST HOST): Congressman Gaetz, the frustration that I have and the viewers have is that there are some guys like you -- Jim Jordan, and Ron DeSantis, and Trey Gowdy, most of the time -- but we're not to seeing a lot of action here. What can we expect as opposed to just saying, bring them in?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Well, to my friend Matt Schlapp, I would point them to the comments of Rod Rosenstein on May 1st when he said that Congress has no constitutional role for oversight. That's what we are fighting against.
The Department of Justice that doesn't believe we have a right for oversight. It's outrageous and frankly it shows how important it is for the small group of us who have been really pounding the facts on this issue to get support from our leadership. You know how the Democrats will do oversight, Judge Jeanine? They will say, the damn documents will be there at 10 o’clock or your impeachment proceeding begins at 10:01.
That's what we ought to do. We ought to demand the documents or we ought to begin the impeachment procedure. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/3/18]
Panel on Hannity, guest hosted by Jeanine Pirro, discussed impeaching Rosenstein at length. From the June 29 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
JEANINE PIRRO (GUEST HOST): All right, Charlie, I will start with you. Now, what we've got here is we've got -- I got -- you just heard two congressmen and what they say is, “You know what, leadership isn't letting us do what we've got to do.” What do they have to do? American people are frustrated that is why they elected Donald Trump. What needs to happen now?
CHARLES HURT (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Oh, it's just beyond frustrating. When you sit there and you look at a guy like Rod Rosenstein -- who I think should be impeached, should be fired quite frankly. To look at a guy like that whose only objective in coming before Congress is somehow sticking up or covering up, trying to protect the institution of the FBI, that is not what we are worried about here.
PIRRO: If the president were to order Rod Rosenstein to comply and Rosenstein doesn't, then who impeaches Rosenstein? Would the president fire Rosenstein? Does he need another James Comey scenario all over again?
HURT: Well, my goodness, Judge. I don't know -- who does this guy think he works for? He ultimately works for the president and he ultimately works for the American people. And if the president wants to can him, he can. He works for the president. And the fact that he is sitting in that committee hearing pointing at these members of Congress who are doing their job or trying to do their job, which is oversight of the administration, oversight of a position that they created and they confirmed him to hold.
The idea that he is going to sit there and point fingers at him and of course, Gregg [Jarrett] is exactly right, the most astonishing things are the threats that have come from him. But even before the threats made to staffers, he accused -- he said that -- he had some comment about how he will not be bribed into giving over information. Basically accusing members of Congress of trying to bribe him.
PIRRO: Well, there’s no question. And guys, I'm running out of time. I mean, Congress is a coequal branch of government. This guy is so arrogant and condescending. Should he be impeached?
DOUG SCHOEN (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Here's what -- here's the political --
PIRRO: We have no time.
SCHOEN: Yes. It will become a constitutional crisis --
PIRRO: If the president does fire him.
SCHOEN: Yes. And that is what he is banking on.
PIRRO: And that is what is Rosenstein is --
PIRRO: What do you think should happen?
GREGG JARRETT (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): You cannot defy a lawful subpoena from Congress. That is grounds for being fired. It should be done if he continues to obstruct.
PIRRO: It has never happened.
JARRETT: Let's do it now.
PIRRO: I’m with you. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/29/18]
Hannity: “I urge every single member of the House to now take action to, yes, move to contempt and, yes, impeachment. Enough is enough.”
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now, the deputy A.G. is continuing to obstruct the U.S. House of Representatives and their subpoenas in its efforts to check and do their constitutional duty and investigate actions by the FBI and the DOJ. Now, House Republicans are fighting back hard -- contempt, impeachment, tonight is very much on the table.
The House did in fact pass a resolution demanding that Rosenstein comply with the document request in seven days, or they do face the possibility, first of contempt, and even impeachment.
In seven days from today, if the DOJ continues this obstruction, I urge every single member of the House to now take action to, yes, move to contempt and, yes, impeachment. Enough is enough. Trey Gowdy was right. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/28/18]
Sara Carter on Hannity: “Either they push for those documents or they file those contempt or even impeachment against Rob Rosenstein.” Hannity hosted Fox’s Sara Carter who said that “Congress needs to fight and fight hard” against Rod Rosenstein. From the June 27 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SARA CARTER (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Congress needs to fight and fight hard. They need to stick to what they have said and I hope they do. Either they push for those documents or they file those contempt or even impeachment against Rod Rosenstein and see if that gets him to move. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/27/18]
Lou Dobbs to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL): When will Congress “get mad” and “actually being to impeach … obviously politically corrupt officials” like Rosenstein. From the May 22 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:
RON DESANTIS: I don't know. But I think at the end of the day, somebody like Rosenstein I think should be recused from some of this because even if he didn't do anything wrong, he did sign a FISA warrant. And so, some of what he knew could be at issue here, so I think having somebody else look over this I think is good. But here's the thing, Lou, you know, there are going to be some type of production, but as we've seen they just don't come clean with everything. So I'm hoping that this is the final straw and they finally give the goods to Nunes and Gowdy. But my fear is that Nunes is going to have to send a letter, you know, next week, and we're kind of at this again. So let's bring this home for a soft landing.
LOU DOBBS (HOST): When do you guys get mad? When do you decide that you've been pushed around by the department and the agency over which you have oversight, and actually begin to impeach, and to cite for a contempt these arrogant and obviously politically corrupt officials who make up the majority it seems of the leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice? [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/22/18, via Nexis]
Lou Dobbs: “Unfortunately … I don’t think [congressional Republicans] have got the guts” to impeach Rosenstein. From the June 13 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:
LOU DOBBS (HOST): And I would hope that he would if he doesn't fire Rosenstein and Sessions at the very least, give them a direct order. Turn over those documents to the Oversight Committees and do it forthwith, without excuse without delay, so help you God.
CHARLES HURT (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): No, you're right but you know, in short of that Congress absolutely should step in there and continue making these demands and as I say, I think they ought to impeached Rosenstein.
DOBBS: Yes, I will take unfortunately the under on that. I don't think they've got the guts.
HURT: Yes, you're probably right
DOBBS: And they won't even speak with the courage, let alone act with it. I hope I'm wrong and I certainly hope you're right, as you often and frequently and regularly are. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 6/13/18, via Nexis]
Lou Dobbs laments “anything short of impeachment for Rod Rosenstein.” From the June 20 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:
LOU DOBBS (HOST): No discipline. No leadership. What would you assume would be the punishment for an FBI agent who took tickets to a ballgame, who was being bought dinners, taken on the town. I just couldn't imagine people talk about Jay (sic) Edgar Hoover, I can't imagine a single G-man under Jay (sic) Edgar Hoover ever, ever doing.
JAMES KALLSTROM (FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR): Yes. Well --
KALLSTROM: Those types of things are dealt with very harshly and when you add to that, if you are taking this stuff where you deal with, OK, they gave me a ticket to, you know, some dinner.
KALLSTROM: That's one thing but it's dealt with harshly, but now, when that same person gives that media outlet, some inside information, you know, that's not going to get public, you know, that's firing stuff. You're fired. You're gone.
DOBBS: Anything short of impeachment for Rod Rosenstein, anything short of impeachment for the top officials of the FBI to break through the stonewall and to -- and to mercifully let the Congress actually do what is its constitutional charge and that is conduct oversight of those agencies?
KALLSTROM: Yes. It's just awful that even today, Lou, you know, they're not getting the documents from the Justice Department that they should be getting. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 6/20/18, via Nexis]
Lou Dobbs: There are “grounds right there” to impeach Rosenstein. From the July 17 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight:
LOU DOBBS (HOST): Taking on this issue preparing impeachment against Rod Rosenstein (NAUDIBLE) Trey Gowdy apparently answered the question by saying impeach for what? I've got a list, do you?
GREGG JARRETT: Sure.
DOBBS: I mean Gowdy has a lot of trouble apparently with these affirmative actions.
JARRETT: It's obstruction of justice if you defy a lawful subpoena which is what he's done. So, there's your grounds right there, Trey Gowdy and I don't understand why this is so complex you were a former prosecutor. Although, you did admit you weren't a very good one. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 7/17/18, via Nexis]