Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, encouraged Americans in a statement issued late Thursday to be “skeptical about anonymous allegations” after a string of recent news reports about the evolving focus of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible collusion with President Trump’s associates.
“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” Mr. Rosenstein said in the statement.
He added: “Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”
He did not cite specific reports. The Justice Department released Mr. Rosenstein’s statement after 9 p.m., a few hours after The Washington Post reported that the special counsel was investigating the business dealings of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. That report was attributed to unnamed American officials.
Asked about the impetus for the statement, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Rosenstein did not respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday night.
This statement appears directed at reporters covering this scandal. The Times and the Post are not going to disclose their confidential sources, but if reporters are talking to FBI agents or Treasury Department officials in FinCEN about money laundering investigations overseas, or to intelligence officers or their foreign intelligence counterparts in Europe, I would take this as a veiled threat that the FBI may be monitoring reporters communications with their sources overseas. If that is what Rosenstein meant to imply, that is a big effin’ deal.
There was some speculation last night that Rosenstein may have issued this statement at the direction of the White House because his “statement aligned with the president’s open frustration with unflattering leaks. Mr. Trump has called stories about the investigation “fake news” and complained on Twitter about a Washington Post report on Wednesday night that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was investigating the president himself for possible obstruction of justice. That story was also attributed to unnamed sources, as was a New York Times article that same evening about Mr. Mueller’s request for interviews with three top intelligence officials.”
But then this morning, our Twitter-troll-in-chief turned on Rosenstein while confirming that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice. Trump Acknowledges He Is Under Investigation in Russia Inquiry:
President Trump acknowledged publicly for the first time on Friday that he was under investigation in the expanding inquiry into Russian influence in the election, and he appeared to attack the integrity of the Justice Department official in charge of leading it.
In an early-morning tweet, the president declared that he was “being investigated” for his decision to fire James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director. And he seemed to accuse Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, of leading a “witch hunt.”
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