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Washington, Sept. 24, 2018 – In response to the reports of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaving the Justice Department, apparently in anticipation of a firing by the president, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director and former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:

There is much that is unknown about the reported departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but this much is clear: for the president to fire or force the resignation of a law enforcement official in order to derail an investigation into the president is an assault on democracy, and if that is what the president has done here, it is obstruction of justice, plain and simple. This may be the first step in President Trump’s attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or to effectively shut down his investigation, in what must ultimately prove to be an unsuccessful effort to prevent a full investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related obstruction of justice. Now is the time for Congress to begin hearings to get to the bottom of what is happening here, and if this is what it appears to be — an attempt by the president to undercut investigations into him — Congress must begin abuse of power hearings into the president. It is hard to overstate the potential gravity of this attack on the investigation and on our democratic system. As then Senator Jeff Sessions pointed out 20 years ago, obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense by the president.

Congress has the power to protect Special Counsel Mueller’s job and investigation. So far they have refused, because congressional leaders did not believe there was an immediate threat. Now it is clear that there is. They must act now, for the sake of our nation.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org