At this writing, we’re still waiting for the report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton’s email case. It’s scheduled to be released Thursday, with the President receiving it by midafternoon. The version we see later in the day will no doubt contain some redactions, as the DOJ has had it over two weeks for “review.” The President (being the President) had better receive both the redacted and unredacted versions, to be able to compare them and see what the DOJ is trying to withhold from Congress and the general public.
Keep in mind, this report doesn’t deal directly with the FBI’s investigation of Trump and alleged Russia “collusion,” or with the Mueller investigation that spun off from that. It doesn’t examine the process for obtaining the FISA warrants to spy on Trump campaign associates. But it deals with largely the same cast of characters at the FBI, and if it shows that Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page and the rest of that sorry lot were in the tank for Hillary, we’ll be able to infer a lot about their motivations regarding Trump. In other words, if “the fix was in” for Hillary, we may assume “the knives were out” for Trump.
So that’s coming within hours. In the meantime, I must say that the Rod Rosenstein story from yesterday --- concerning threats he made to members of Congress and their staff about putting their email and phone records under subpoena --- has caught fire. The idea that such intimidation tactics might be used by bureaucrats against elected officials and their staffers who are trying to carry out their constitutional duties is just not in keeping with what we want our government to be here in America. And as the story got around, it became increasingly clear that the Rosenstein temper is legendary and that similar threats have been made, in other meetings with lots of shouting. Most of all, the story suggested how desperate the Department of “Justice” is to hide...what??...and how close the committees charged with oversight must be to finding it.
Andrew C. McCarthy has explained the legal implications of Rosenstein’s behavior in his latest column for NATIONAL REVIEW. The great thing about it is that he places the contentious meeting in the context of what was going on five months ago, on January 10. McCarthy reminds us that this was at a time when they were trying to maintain that they would never use unverified information in a FISA application. They wanted us to believe that they would clearly inform the FISA court of the questionable origins and potential biases of the information supplied to them. We found out only later that what they’d told us about the FISA application process was a pile of you-know-what.
McCarthy has done the heavy lifting for this latest piece, outlining in clear detail what is wrong with having the deeply conflicted Rosenstein play the role of FBI-head and Mueller’s supervisor. (By the way, did you know McCarthy has just been hired as a FOX News contributor? He’s been our go-to legal “advisor” for some time, adding greatly to our understanding of complex legal issues at a time when we really need that.) He says he doesn’t know Rosenstein personally and is not attacking his integrity but theorizes that the conflicts he’s facing in his work are distorting his judgment.
I’m not sure I can cut Rosenstein that much slack. What is it that has kept him from recusing himself, given those enormous conflicts? Failure to do that is, in itself, a horrendously bad judgment call. It’s even possible that he’s keeping some documents under wraps because they implicate HIM. After all, he did sign one of the warrant renewals sent to the FISA court. Whether or not that is true, just the appearance of something like that is one more reason he shouldn’t be anywhere near this case.
In fact, McCarthy makes a compelling argument that it doesn’t make sense for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and Rosenstein not to, that in fact it should have been the opposite. Rosenstein has to go, and all the documents must be disclosed.