After a closed-door interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein under oath was postponed last week, one Republican lawmaker said Sunday that it is "more likely" that the interview will now take place in a public setting.
A decision about the meeting's scope rests with two committee chairmen, but Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, explained that frustration of the GOP rank and file may give way to less stringent limitations.
"It'll be up to the chairman to make those decisions in terms of the format," Ratcliffe told anchor Maria Bartiromo on her Fox News program "Sunday Morning Futures." "But I think a lot of folks were unhappy that it was going to be so limited in terms of who's going to get access to asking questions that I think that this is more likely going to be a public hearing, where more members of Congress will be able to ask some of the questions that I just raised directly to the deputy attorney general."
The private interview with Rosenstein was set for Wednesday, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., announced Tuesday they were postponing it.
“The committees are unable to ask all questions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein within the time allotted for tomorrow’s transcribed interview, therefore, the interview will be postponed," said a joint statement from the chairmen. "Mr. Rosenstein has indicated his willingness to testify before the Judiciary and Oversight Committees in the coming weeks in either a transcribed interview or a public setting. We appreciate his willingness to appear and will announce further details once it has been rescheduled.”
Much to the chagrin of some GOP members eager to grill Rosenstein themselves, that meeting was set to include only Goodlatte, Gowdy, and Democratic ranking members Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md. A transcript would have been reviewed by the intelligence community and, upon receiving clearance, been made available to the public, Goodlatte and Gowdy said.
Certain conservative lawmakers, notably Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, tweeted that they were being excluded from the discussion, citing a "double standard" for a top-ranking official. However, in a Fox News interview last week, Goodlatte pushed back against the complaints of some of his colleagues, noting that the conditions for the interview were proposed by himself and Gowdy, not the Justice Department.
The interview was expected to include questions about reports Rosenstein considered wearing a wire to record conversations with President Trump and raised the possibility of removing the president from office using the 25th Amendment, reports Rosenstein has disputed.
Ratcliffe, a member of the Judiciary Committee who stressed that he wasn't in the conversations about the postponement, nevertheless claimed to know that one of the reasons why it was pushed back was because Rosenstein didn't initially realize that questions would also touch on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the Russia investigation, and alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse.
"When he found out ... he wanted a little bit more time and hopefully, justice delayed is not justice denied," Ratcliffe said.
"He has agreed to come back. I think he will spend a full day with hopefully the Judiciary Committee," he said, adding that he expects the interview to happen after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.