Jordan: Mr. Rosenstein, did you threaten staffers on the House Intelligence Committee? Media reports indicate you did.
Rosenstein: Media reports are mistaken.
Jordan: Sometimes. But this is what they said: ‘Having the nation’s #1 law enforcement officer threaten to subpoena your calls and e-mails is downright chilling.’ Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and emails?
Rosenstein: No, sir, and there is no way to subpoena phone calls.
Jordan: Well I’m just saying, I’m reading what press said.
Rosenstein: I’d suggest you not rely on what the press said, sir.
The media praised Rosenstein for his handling of Jordan’s question, particularly his pedantic claim that phone calls can’t be subpoenaed, which elicited laughter from the gallery. It was obvious that Rosenstein was familiar with the media report his office confirmed, if spun to be less disconcerting, and that the term phone call was a reference to phone records, which are frequently subpoenaed or otherwise obtained by law enforcement authorities.
Liberal journalists such as the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake claimed that “Rod Rosenstein shuts down Jim Jordan over Fox News report,” writing that “On Thursday, Jordan again found himself getting shut down by one of the embattled leaders of the Justice Department — this time in somewhat embarrassing fashion.”
Blake and other reporters appeared unaware that Rosenstein’s denial that he threatened to obtain internal congressional communications was at odds with the official DOJ statements provided to Fox News and CNN that admitted Rosenstein had told congressional staff that he would seek to obtain their e-mails and other records if Congress voted to hold him in contempt for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas.