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WATCH: Deputy AG Rosenstein Testifies Before Congress, About Mueller’s Russia Influence Investigation

Rosenstein says there’s a difference between political affiliation and political bias

THE LATEST on special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election (all times local):

11:08 a.m.

Republican members of Congress are challenging the deputy attorney general about the political leanings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team.

The questioning of Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday comes one day after Congress received from the Justice Department derogatory text messages about President Donald Trump from two FBI officials. The text messages ended in late 2016, and the two officials were later assigned to Mueller’s team. That group is investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, told Rosenstein that the American people deserve an unbiased team.

Rosenstein says there’s a difference between political affiliation and political bias. He says Justice Department officials are entitled to political views but cannot allow them to influence their actions.

Rosenstein also defended Mueller’s investigation, saying he’s seen no good cause to fire Mueller.

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10:54 a.m.

The Justice Department official overseeing the investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia says he has no reason to fire the special counsel leading the probe.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday he has no good cause to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. The comment came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing where Rosenstein was pressed about the special counsel probe and a series of politically-charged text messages between a pair of FBI officials who were assigned to it.

Republicans are suggesting Mueller’s team is biased against President Donald Trump and its conclusions can’t be trusted. Rosenstein did not directly address the messages, which are the subject of an inspector general’s investigation.

But he says Mueller is conducting himself consistent with the Justice Department’s “understanding of the scope of the investigation.”

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4:24 a.m.

Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign described him with insults like “idiot” and “loathsome human” in a series of text messages last year.

The Associated Press reviewed dozens of text messages between FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok (struhk) and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The Justice Department turned the messages over to Congress on Tuesday.

Strzok was among the agents working with Mueller to investigate potential coordination between Trump and the Russia campaign. He was also heavily involved in the investigation last year into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The text messages ended in late 2016, months before Mueller’s appointment.

Strzok left the team last summer after the texts were discovered.

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