At this writing, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has gone to the White House, reportedly expecting to be fired, though another report says he’s simply on his way to a previously scheduled committee meeting and that Trump is speaking at the UN General Assembly today (Monday). To set the record straight, the President’s outstanding press secretary has just issued a statement saying Trump will meet with Rosenstein when he’s back in Washington on Thursday. According to the statement, the two have already had “an extended conversation” at Rosenstein’s request to “discuss the recent news stories.” An update says there was also a conversation with Chief Of Staff John Kelly.
Rosenstein deserves a good sacking for reasons we’ve discussed here, and the President is just the man with the guts to do it. He’s been counseled, though, not to make this move, at least until after the midterms if at all, because it would be “politically explosive” and seen as “obstruction” (which it isn’t; the special counsel could still go on unimpeded).
We use the term “deep state” quite often to describe what is increasingly evident within our politicized federal bureaucracy, refusing to shy away from what some hesitate to say outright. Especially in recent days, it’s been gratifying to see some legal experts and longtime observers, even from the other side of the aisle, state the obvious.
“People bristle when I sometimes adopt and use that term: ‘deep state,’” said Mark Penn over the weekend in an op-ed for THE HILL. “But as an outside observer, watching the unmasking of the actions of one official after another at the FBI, CIA and DOJ, I have come to accept that an unelected group of well-educated, experienced individuals running these departments became inebriated with their own power during the last election campaign and apparently came to believe they were on a mission to stop, defeat or remove President Trump and his associates for crimes they would find or, if necessary, manufacture.”
It should be mentioned that Mark Penn worked as a Democratic pollster and strategist for Bill Clinton. How refreshing it is when political adversaries can set their partisanship aside and call ‘em as they see ‘em. Penn has taken a lot of heat for this stance, to say the least, from the Democratic side.
We’ve been covering the stunning revelations here for many months, and they just keep coming. What we’ve already learned is so bad, it’s easy to see why officials at the Justice Department/FBI have ignored subpoenas, slow-walked Freedom Of Information Act requests, and redacted documents for no good reason other than to cover their own hineys.
What the Justice Department has managed to do, by moving the pieces on the board before Trump was even in the game, is tie his hands legally, so that he takes tremendous risk doing what the Constitution says plain as day falls under his authority as President. By fraudulently putting him under investigation for “obstruction” (obstruction of WHAT??), they intend to keep him from firing the very people who are using their positions to damage his presidency.
The investigation has metastasized so far that it seemingly can’t be contained. Essentially anything the President says or does relative to the FBI/DOJ/special counsel can be interpreted as “obstruction.” It doesn’t matter whether the charge would stand up in court; the Democrats definitely will use it in purely-political impeachment hearings if they take the House. Hardly anything is beyond the scope, and yet we’re still trying to find out exactly how it all started.
Trump has even tapped the brakes on his call to declassify all the documents Congress is still waiting for –- key materials related to the Russia investigation –- out of concern that the perception might be one of obstruction and also in response to requests from Allies (I’m thinking the U.K. and Australia, since some of the major players in this intrigue are from those countries). That argument can be made; still, only in the current climate of insanity would the call to RELEASE information be labeled OBSTRUCTION.
Mark Penn says what we’ve been observing for a long time: that the President is “damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.” The Democrats (and the media, but I repeat myself) will jump all over Trump if he fires Rosenstein, for whatever reason he gives. They can’t wait –- in their minds, it would make the 2019 impeachment hearings so much meatier. They’re trying to goad the President into it; that may be the reason, in fact, why Rosenstein’s so-called joke about wearing a wire and encouraging Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to depose him (hahaha, isn’t that funny?) was leaked to The New York Times.
In fact, Democrats are already condemning Trump before he’s lifted in a finger in response. California Rep. Adam Schiff --- who will chair the House Intelligence Committee if Democrats take the House; think about that --- wrongly characterizes the prospect of Rosenstein’s firing, whether it happens now or after the midterms, as “a slow-moving Saturday Night Massacre.”
The most likely source for the NYT leak is Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page’s boss, who was fired for (yes) leaking and lying about it to FBI interrogators and who is now being investigated by a grand jury. Penn points out that in his statement about this new leak, Rosenstein’s “denial” does not deny the discussion of wiring himself or others as a means to entrap or embarrass the President. Obviously, they were talking about it –- it’s tempting to use the word “conspiring” –- and the cracking of a few wry jokes would simply have served to add color to the discussion.
Incidentally, the Daily Beast is reporting that according to two sources “familiar with the events in question,” Lisa Page was present at that meeting and was under the impression Rosenstein was serious.
The meeting took place soon after Trump’s firing of Comey, and it was just days later that Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel –- I see that as a real-world legal equivalent of their dream of wearing a wire to “get” Trump –- with the catalyst for that appointment being the firing of Comey that he himself had justified in writing.
And he oversees the special counsel to this very day. We are through the looking glass, friends.
This isn’t the first time Rosenstein has made an inappropriate and revealing remark and then said he was kidding. Perhaps his next career phase –- after he is GONE from the DOJ –- should be in standup comedy; he does have a certain deadpan style about him, and being against Trump will only help him succeed on the late-night circuit.
I agree with Penn that this sort of behavior is evidence of supreme arrogance on the part of this group. Even the ones who have been fired are being rewarded with TV contracts, speaking gigs and book deals. They “convinced themselves that they would rescue our country from ourselves,” Penn says. “They were on a mission, it turns out, not to save our country but to undo our democracy, and Rosenstein finally has been unmasked as having the attitudes and conflicts we all suspected.”
Rosenstein seems to think he’s politically unaccountable to anyone. He needs to go, but semi-Attorney General Sessions still won’t do it for reasons more mysterious than Pandora’s box. Meanwhile, anyone in Congress or the Senate who wants to damage Trump is apparently fine with tearing up the Constitution if that’s what it takes.
So what’s a President to do? If control of the House changes, we know exactly what’s going to happen. Immediately, the lid will be clamped down tight on all investigations that touch on the FBI and DOJ’s handling of Hillary and Trump/Russia. Mueller will move forward, pedal-to-the-metal. Articles of impeachment, which no doubt already exist in carefully crafted draft mode, will be presented and the President will be impeached for being Donald Trump.
The one thing he could do is appoint a second special counsel, as a last resort, to continue the investigations that the Democrats plan to shut down. Even if the Republicans win, this appears to be the only way to address the absurd conflicts of interest and misconduct at the DOJ and FBI. According to a Harvard/CAPS poll, over 70 percent of Americans believe such a special counsel should be appointed. It’s hard to get 70 percent of Americans to agree on anything, Mr. President. Listen to them.
As I close, it’s being reported by The New York Times that Rosenstein “is planning to leave his job.” We don’t yet know whether he expects to be fired or is planning to resign. Either way, we know how it’ll be spun. But at least he’ll finally be out.