One story that’s getting lost in the week’s giant steaming shovelful of...well, news...is the information being mined from FBI documents that President Trump declassified almost literally on his way out the door.
Investigative reporter John Solomon has been quietly going through this material, and you can keep up by following his work on his website JUST THE NEWS.
Remember when Andrew McCabe, then acting director of the FBI, decided to open a formal investigation into President Trump on the grounds that Trump’s firing of Director James Comey might have been an act of obstruction, done to thwart the (phony) “Russia” investigation? (Come to think of it, remember how virtually everything Trump did, even if it was well within his authority as President, was labeled “obstruction”?) And remember how “shocked, shocked!” Democrats were that Trump would dare fire Comey and how they all, as if on cue, started demanding the appointment of a special counsel?
Well, we now have contemporaneous notes from a May 2017 meeting at which then-deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was informed of McCabe’s decision to formally investigate Trump. There are notes from from both McCabe and Lisa Page.
There’s something intriguing in Page’s notes. She wrote that in the meeting, Rosenstein expressed outrage that Comey had been fired, but she added a comment that this rage seemed odd to her, as Rosenstein had already revealed to FBI officials, presumably including her, that he and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been contemplating firing Comey for months, since January. She apparently wondered what the big deal was about Trump firing Comey if the DOJ was getting ready to fire him anyway. (If there was one thing Democrats and Republicans generally agreed on, it was that James Comey deserved to be canned.)
McCabe’s notes are consistent. Five days later, in notes from a different meeting, he quoted Rosenstein as saying the firing of Comey had been in the works for months and WAS NOT REALLY DRIVEN BY THE RUSSIA PROBE. (Emphasis mine --- obviously, the "Russia" thing was just a pretense.)
Page’s notes are also consistent with Rosenstein’s Senate testimony that he and Sessions wanted to fire Comey in January 2017. But what we know now is that McCabe and others at the Bureau KNEW this even as they opened the investigation against Trump for doing the very thing their superiors at the DOJ had been talking about doing for months –- firing Comey!
If the investigation of Trump seemed like a sham before, this shows it to have been even more of one. “Most supervisors I know wouldn’t open that case with such stunning exculpatory information,” said Jeffrey Danik, a decorated 28-year veteran FBI supervisory agent who retired in 2015. “It’s more than flawed; it’s its own standalone abuse. You have exculpatory information, and you are ignoring it.”
Can you say “witch hunt”?
Something else: Remember when McCabe testified before Congress that Rosenstein offered to wear a wire and surreptitiously record President Trump as part of a plot to invoke the 25th Amendment? Now we have McCabe’s own notes about that. He records this exchange factually and appears to take the suggestion seriously, not expressing any interpretation that Rosenstein might be joking, as Rosenstein later claimed he was.
"As our conversation continued,” McCabe wrote contemporaneously in May of 2017, “the DAG [deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] proposed that he could potentially wear a recording device into the Oval Office to collect additional information on the President’s true intentions. He said he thought this might be possible because he was not searched when he entered the White House. I told him that I would discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.”
Do you get the impression from this that anyone is kidding? Neither do I. No, this is just more indication that President Trump has been right all along about what was being done to him by the FBI. And Solomon has merely scratched the surface of what we’re going to learn.