WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 U.S. Justice Department official who has come under criticism from President Donald Trump, picked up a legal victory for Trump’s administration at the Supreme Court on Monday in the first case he ever argued there.
In a 5-3 ruling in favor of the administration, the high court rejected convicted drug dealer Adaucto Chavez-Meza’s bid to reduce his sentence by six months.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s 30-minute oral argument in April was a break from his regular job, which includes overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump’s criticism of Rosenstein has been part of the president’s effort to paint Mueller’s investigation as a witch hunt.
The court, in a ruling authored by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, said the judge in Chavez-Meza’s case had given an adequate explanation for his decision not to reduce the sentence.
“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was honored to argue before the Supreme Court, and we are pleased with the decision,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
Chavez-Meza, 25, a legal immigrant from Mexico, worked with the Mexico-based Sinaloa drug cartel and was arrested in New Mexico in 2012 and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He is serving a sentence of 9-1/2 years.
Rosenstein’s fellow Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the case.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham