Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has offered what The Wall Street Journal described on Wednesday as a “forceful defense” of the special counsel’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Speaking to the Journal, Rosenstein described the investigation, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, as “appropriate and independent” and one that the public would have faith in.
“At the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence, and that it was an appropriate use of resources,” Rosenstein said. He added that the probe ― which has led so far to the indictment of more than 30 people, most of them Russian nationals, and three companies ― had uncovered a “widespread effort” by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly belittled the investigation as a “witch hunt,” has tried to downplay the extent of Russian interference. During his recent “60 Minutes” interview, the president conceded that Russia may have meddled, but stressed, “I think China meddled, too.”
“I think, frankly, China is a bigger problem,” Trump said.
In his conversation with the Journal, Rosenstein did not specify when Mueller’s investigation would come to a close. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, however, that the special counsel was planning to issue key findings “soon after” the November vote.
Quoting a U.S. official, Bloomberg said Rosenstein had been pressing Mueller to conclude the investigation as soon as possible.