Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on the last renewal of the FISA warrant application to spy on Carter Page, appointed Robert Mueller, determined the “scope” of the special counsel investigation of Trump and his colleagues, and supposedly supervised Mueller and his team, tried hard in testimony Wednesday to distance himself from all that happened in what has been dubbed “Spygate.”
He was smiling broadly at times, perhaps because he thought he was succeeding in his aim. And maybe he was, at least partially. But with his effort to save his own skin, this slippery attorney actually succeeded in showing us that there WAS a coup against the President. Nothing else makes sense.
If we weren’t living in “these uncertain times” --- a phrase I can’t wait to see retired --- Rosenstein’s testimony would be "the" story right now. Even the mainstream media might have to cover it a little. At the moment, it’s easy for them to bury it. But this was just the first of many hearings, and John Durham continues to investigate. Step by step, the revelations continue to prove we were right.
In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein’s strategy was to present himself as someone who trusted his colleagues to give him correct information, so much so that he didn’t bother to read “every word” of the FISA application before signing it, even though in this case his signature was his personal stamp of verification of "every word" to the FISA court.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, chairman of the committee, was having none of it. Neither was Sen. Ted Cruz, who skewered Rosenstein for including Flynn in the “scope” memo in August of 2017 after the FBI had concluded on January 4 that there was no evidence against Flynn and that the case should be closed. He went on to bring up that infamous meeting held the very next day, January 5, in the Oval Office. Going through the timeline, he told Rosenstein that there were only two possible conclusions: “either that you were complicit in the wrongdoing, which I don’t believe was the case, or that your performance of your duties was grossly negligent.” Much more; this is a must-watch video if you’ve not already seen it.
You’ll notice in the video that Rosenstein isn’t smiling anymore. It was really Cruz, by giving Rosenstein the benefit of the doubt as he did, who showed point-by-point what had been going on deep within the FBI. (Were you aware of THIS? Were you aware of...THIS?) Rosenstein comes across as a naive fool, but that's likely a choice he has made, finding it preferable to coming across as someone who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit.
"Why did you let this pile of partisan lies consume the country for two years?” Cruz asks. Rosenstein tries in vain to change direction, saying that “there was a lot going on at the Department of Justice” during those years, that he and Jeff Sessions were making “significant changes” that weren’t “just about the Russia investigation," as if that had any bearing here.
David Marcus at the NEW YORK POST has a magnificent write-up of the day’s testimony and its significance.
Sen. Graham asked Rosenstein the big takeaway question of the day: “If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application?”
Rosenstein was ready: “No, I would not.”
No, he would not. If it was wrong for Rosenstein to sign the renewal based on the facts they had, then it was wrong to apply for the warrant in the first place. From the start, there was never any evidence on Carter Page. They used that first warrant as a pretext for all the spying to come.
So that’s it. It was all a fraud, started with a piece of partisan, fictional oppo “research” paid for by (who else?) the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was perpetrated against Donald Trump, his associates, and the country at large. We went through years of needless torture over NOTHING. Think of all the histrionics, the obsession, the endless “Russia, Russia Russia!” paranoia, leaping from the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES, and consuming almost all major media, day after day after day. The many millions of dollars wasted. The enormous waste of time –- Congress’s time, everybody’s time. Trump’s presidency was practically stalled. That was the idea, of course.
Think of the lives and careers that were ruined, particularly that of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a man who served his country for 33 years. As it turns out, he didn't lie after all, and the FBI didn't even ask him the question (concerning sanctions on Russia) they later accused him of lying about! Then there's Carter Page, who had actually helped the FBI in the past yet was accused by them of being a Russian agent. The President himself was being investigated for conspiracy with Russia --- which would be treason --- when there was no evidence of that at all. Of course, if Hillary had (shudder) been elected, all evidence would have been swept away, shredded, hit with hammers and Bleach-bitted, and the spying on political enemies would have metastasized.
Think of the lack of focus we had on really important things --- particularly China, which was hiding the spread of a deadly contagion from its own virology lab while Congress was busy with its kangaroo-court impeachment fiasco.
The irony of this is that Vladimir Putin must have had a really good laugh about it, every day. He did want to see chaos over here, and in their zeal to get rid of Trump, our own Justice Department and the American media gave it to him.
Mr. Marcus is clearly as angry about this as I am. “What is becoming clear,” he says, is that the Department of Justice wanted to prevent, then destroy, a Trump presidency. These were not open-minded officials being led by the facts; they were manipulating the facts and hiding exculpatory evidence to bring down Trump and his associates.”
I would add that this is what Rosenstein was trying to distance himself from today. He has to appear ignorant of all of it or be part of the conspiracy. If he does know more than he’s letting on –- which seems likely; Cruz gave him more benefit of the doubt than I would –- it’ll be up to John Durham and his team of investigators to prove he does, through the testimony of others or some revealing text or email. Also, U.S. Attorney John Bash is now looking more closely at the unmasking process, particularly as it was used against Michael Flynn.
More subpoenas are set to be issued this week. Clapper, Brennan, Comey, and McCabe are expected to be among those subpoenaed by the Senate.
Democrats tried to say on Wednesday that these hearings are being held to weaken Biden’s run for president. Trust me, if this were about Biden, we’d have plenty to investigate HIM for, and that wouldn’t be pretty, either.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, Andrew McCabe issued a statement essentially calling Rosenstein a liar for suggesting that FBI officials misled him. Details here.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham read it aloud near the close of the hearing and allowed Rosenstein a chance to respond. Rosenstein said he hadn’t actually said “misled.” He’d said McCabe hadn’t been “fully forthcoming.”
Personally, I doubt either one of them has been “fully forthcoming.”
Apparently, there’s a longstanding feud between McCabe and Rosenstein, starting around the time President Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey. The WASHINGTON POST wrote about this two years ago, and it adds a fascinating dimension to the story.
McCabe is the one who said in a memo that Rosenstein had talked in a meeting about wearing a wire and using the 25th Amendment to get rid of Trump. Rosenstein reportedly responded later that he had been joking. Then-FBI general counsel James Baker was not present but heard about the comments after the meeting and thought Rosenstein was serious.
At that time, each man had his own reasons for wanting the other to step away from the “Trump/Russia” case. And today, they’re telling different stories about what went on. A prosecutor’s dream. I have a feeling this is going to get good.