(CNN) – Former FBI Director James Comey says he’s “highly confident” that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would refuse to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if ordered to do so by President Donald Trump.
“I think, given his experience with me, that he has an opportunity in overseeing Bob Mueller to restore some of his professional reputation,” Comey said of Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who penned the memo that the White House cited as the basis for Comey’s ouster, according to a transcript of an interview with ABC News posted Sunday.
“And I’m highly confident that he would refuse to abide that order,” Comey said.
Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, inherited the oversight of the Justice Department’s investigation, and later the special counsel probe into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election and any potential links between Russia and Trump campaign associates, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigating matters related to the presidential campaign.
Following the FBI raid on the house, office and hotel room of Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, last week, the President openly mulled whether to fire Mueller and repeated his attack on the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Trump also has been considering axing Rosenstein as a way to limit Mueller’s investigation, multiple people familiar with the discussions told CNN.
Comey told ABC News that if Trump were to fire the special counsel, it would “set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law.”
“And it would be something that our entire country — again, Democrats and Republican — that is higher than all the normal fights about policy,” Comey said in the interview with ABC News that aired Sunday. ” And it would be to the everlasting shame of partisans if they were unable to see that higher level and to protect it.”