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Rod Rosenstein lauds Trump inauguration speech amid President's DOJ criticism

Juana Summers, CNN | 7/25/2017, 12:58 p.m.
Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, defended the promises President Donald Trump made in his inaugural address even as the ...
Rod Jay Rosenstein is the Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice. Department of Justice

BALTIMORE (CNN) -- Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, defended the promises President Donald Trump made in his inaugural address even as the President himself has accused the Justice Department of leading a "witch hunt" against him.

During his short, tepidly received speech at the NAACP's annual convention here, Rosenstein quoted from the President's inaugural address.

"He said that Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves," Rosenstein said. "These are just and reasonable demands."

Rosenstein's speech to the NAACP comes as the President has renewed a public assault on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, questioning why Sessions had not done more to investigate what he described as "crimes" of Hillary Clinton.

Sessions, who previously served as a senator from Alabama, had been one of Trump's most steadfast supporters but, after he recused himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, he appeared to fall out of the President's favor.

The President has also been sharply critical of Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore. In a recent interview with The New York Times, the President said, "there are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any."

Rosenstein spoke proudly about his record in Baltimore, including the case of seven Baltimore police officers indicted on federal racketeering charges.

"Cases like that are extremely important, but those corrupt officers do not represent all of police. Most officers are honorable people who try every day to do the right thing, but we need them to be role models," he said. "They have a special responsibility to follow the rules."

At the same time, Rosenstein said, "citizens have an obligation to show respect for the police."

"Building a good relationship is a two-way street," he said. "We all need to help build relationships based on mutual respect."

Rosenstein is the only Trump administration official to speak at the NAACP convention. Trump declined an invitation to speak as he did in the 2016 Republican primary. The NAACP released a statement on Trump's decision not to attend saying that "we have lost the will of the current administration to listen to issues facing the black community."