Watch: Rod Rosenstein says 'it's up to the attorney general' to decide to prosecute a sitting president
On Sunday's edition of Meet the Press, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – whose oversight of the United States Department of Justice's probe into ex-President Donald Trump's ties to Russia sparked massive public controversy –weighed in on the handfuls of classified documents that were found in President Joe Biden's home and offices that he used during his tenure as vice president. The materials were discovered by Biden's attorneys and were quickly handed over to the National Archives last year.
This is notably different than the trove of top-secret texts that Trump intentionally took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his term, which he later falsely claimed belonged to him. Biden has made no such declaration of ownership and denies knowing about them at all – even though some were found in his personal garage in Delaware.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsels to investigate each of the cases. Republicans have accused Democrats of hypocrisy about Trump, whom they maintain did nothing wrong. But NBC Moderator Chuck Todd pointed out that this has created in a predicament for the GOP about what is and is not criminal behavior, based on the evidence at hand.
"There's two sort of unique defenses in each of these cases that I'm curious for your take on. One is Donald Trump's claim that he could declassify anything he wanted. Now, he's not made a legal claim that he did that. And the second is Joe Biden's currently president. So is it currently illegal for him to have classified documents in his possession, even if it's at his home next to his Corvette?" Todd asked Rosenstein.
"Right? Well, that's one of the questions the special counsel will have to look into. And in addition, you know the legal status of the vice president, whether or not he has authority to make any declassification decisions. But the key question, the threshold question here is going to be, was President Biden aware of those classified documents," Rosenstein replied.
"And how does that get proven? You think he's going to have to sit for an interview?" Todd pressed Rosenstein.
"Well, that would be a logical step. If I were conducting this investigation, I want to go right to the source and ask the president directly whether or not he was aware of those documents," said Rosenstein.
Todd then touched upon what the procedure would be if evidence emerges that Biden broke the law.
"A sitting president can't be indicted, according to the Justice Department. So let's say something is found. What would happen?" he wondered.
"Chuck, I think what should happen in the special counsel investigation is that the special counsel should evaluate the facts and the law, look at Department of justice policies, and make a recommendation to the attorney general about whether or not prosecution is warranted," Rosenstein opined. "Then it's up to the attorney general to make the decision whether to apply that DOJ policy."
Watch below or at this link.
\u201cEXCLUSIVE: The key question for special counsel Robert Hur is whether President Biden was aware of the classified documents, says fmr. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.\n\n"I would want to go right to the source and ask the president directly whether he was aware of those documents."\u201d— Meet the Press (@Meet the Press) 1673796864
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