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Rod Rosenstein’s Reputation

Not exactly shocking: [1]

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director Jim Comey before he sat down to write a memo criticizing Comey’s conduct.

That’s according to several United States senators who met with Rosenstein Thursday afternoon in a secure room in the Capitol basement.

“He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to writing his memo,” Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill told reporters after the briefing.

Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin echoed McCaskill, saying Rosenstein told lawmakers that he knew of Trump’s intent the day before he wrote a document that the White House initially said was the main reason why Comey was dismissed.

Rosenstein fielded questions in the closed session for more than an hour, but many senators left the briefing unsatisfied.

Again, not shocking. But still important. It’s one of those little things that matters, and indicates how Trump corrupts the people around him.

Rosenstein knew at the time that he was concocting an official rationalization for the president to do what he was going to do anyway.

On May 10, conservative journalist Byron York reported [2] that getting Rosenstein in place as deputy AG was necessary for the White House to fire Comey, because it gave them bipartisan cover:

Only after Rosenstein was in place did the Trump team move ahead. That was true not only for chain-of-command reasons but also — probably more importantly — because Rosenstein had the bipartisan street cred to be able to be the point man in firing Comey. Even though his confirmation was delayed, Rosenstein was eventually confirmed by the Senate by a 94 to 6 vote, meaning that the vast majority of Democratic senators voted for him along with all of the Republicans.

How important was the arrival of Rosenstein to the bid to fire Comey? This, from a source in a Senate office Wednesday morning: “Many who are suggesting that there’s something nefarious about the timing of the Comey firing are likely missing the fact that DAG Rosenstein was sworn in two weeks ago (April 26), and that the FBI Director reports to the DAG on the DOJ org chart. It seems completely normal that the DAG would review their top reports within the first couple weeks of starting.”

Discount the part about “completely normal” — firing the FBI director, who has a ten-year term and was conducting a high-profile investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that touches on the president, was not a routine act. The point is, it took the arrival of Rosenstein to do it.

Read Rosenstein’s May 9 memo to the Attorney General detailing Comey’s failures. [3]Rosenstein does not actually recommend firing Comey; he only provides the rationale. AG Jeff Sessions recommends the firing, and Trump executes it.

So Rosenstein knew that his reputation was being used to cover up something Trump intended to do anyway, for reasons that wouldn’t have flown politically had they been known. In other words, he let Trump’s dirty move conceal itself under his (Rosenstein’s) reputation for fairness. But Trump himself blew the story up when he told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had his anger over the Russia investigation in mind when he fired Comey. Now it’s clear from Rosenstein’s own admission that he knowingly participated in a charade.

And it’s clear (as if it weren’t already) that Donald Trump lies, and is pleased to corrupt those who serve him, to make them accomplices in his deception.

What Rosenstein did is not a crime, and for all I know, it may simply be a case of the public inadvertently getting a look at how the sausage is made. If you read Rosenstein’s firing memo, it is likely that everything in it is factually true. But if so, they were truths written down for use in the telling of a lie, for misleading the American people.

Where does Rod Rosenstein’s good reputation stand today? I wonder if anybody who works high up in this administration is going to come out of it with his reputation intact.

68 Comments (Open | Close)

68 Comments To "Rod Rosenstein’s Reputation"

#1 Comment By GB On May 19, 2017 @ 10:30 am

“Given the improved enforcement of immigration law and the crackdown on MS-13, I think it is safe to say Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has already greatly enhanced his reputation.”

Um, no. He’s set back criminal justice reform by 30 years and he’s going to lose a battle publicly. Google “Justice Safety Valve Act”.

#2 Comment By Austin On May 19, 2017 @ 10:47 am

Trump operates just like LBJ, like FDR, and like the Kennedy clan. Not surprising for someone who is, at some level, a NE Democrat of the old school.

Hard to see what is so unusual or scandalous about Trump’s ruthless using and bullying in the world of power politics. Is it that he doesn’t bother to do it under the tablecloth?

#3 Comment By ROB On May 19, 2017 @ 10:49 am

Does anyone care about the reputation of these sanctimonious jumped up federal cops? Any of them, Mueller, Rosenstein, Comey.

#4 Comment By Jon S. On May 19, 2017 @ 10:52 am

I agree, sadly, with Wes (6:54am). I say this as someone who voted for Gary Johnson and thinks Trump is an ignorant, illiterate, demagogue. Rod, along with so many, is so blinded by his Trump-hatred that he reads everything in the worst possible light, apparently unable to look at facts in anything resembling a dispassionate manner. Here is an alternative explanation: Rosenstein knew Trump was going to fire Comey, but also independently believed Comey deserved firing and wrote a memo to that effect. This is at least as likely, if not more, than “Rosenstein opposed firing Comey, but Trump convinced him to corrupt himself and write an ass-covering memo.” Two things are able to exist at the same time: Trump is incompetent and Democrats and the media are interested in stoking the flames of a non-scandal to undermine the legitimacy of the president. Trump’s problem is not that he is a criminal trying to get away with something, but that he is a boob who keeps acting intemperately thus adding fuel to this fire that deserves to die out.

#5 Comment By Tom G On May 19, 2017 @ 11:06 am

Rod, your hysterical anti-Trump rants are getting very old.
Trump, like many Reps since Comey’s July 5 press conference, has not been happy with Comey.
Because HR Clinton committed, many times, the Federal Crimes of keeping classified material in digital forms outside of the gov’t digital protection. And she lied, and lied, and lied about it and most details about it. To complain about Trump’s lies without noting HRC’s lies is hypocritical, because so many know that Trump is loose with the truth, even those of us who voted for him. Do those who voted HRC agree that she lied? (Or that Pres. Clinton committed perjury 20 years ago?)

Comey gave lots of “immunity” to witnesses, which should only happen when there was a crime. HR Clinton, the alternative to Trump, is the key criminal here. But she gets off scott free.

See Trump supporter Scott Adams on Comey’s tough choice: a) either recommend prosecution and likely cost HRC the election but be the “messenger” deciding the election, or b) allow the voters to decide, after giving out the facts, or c) cover up HRC’s crimes.

Comey violated FBI and DOJ procedures and chose (b) allow the US voters to choose w/o the prosecution recommendation, but also without much cover-up. In some ways this is admirable, but it was NOT his job to decide this.

You hysterically call the letter “concocting an official rationalization “, even if “factually true”. If true, it’s neither concocted nor a rationalization — so … you’re lying. Just as you accuse Trump of doing. (Most supporters of Trump, and you, will forgive such exaggerations.)

On Russia, the only crime we know about so far is the illegal leaking of Flynn’s name — so why hasn’t the FBI found out who the leaking criminal is?

Oh, there might also be the bribery with the Clinton Foundation where the Russians got control of 20% of US uranium mines, along with lots of other “pay to play” bribery.

Finally, any BenOp community of normal believing US Christians will most likely include many who voted for but don’t like Trump. Your own unbalanced rants against “pro-life” Trump (Gorsuch!), rather than against his policy, will certainly make any Trump supporters less comfy in following your advice or listening to you.

#6 Comment By Bernie On May 19, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

Rosenstein reveals more details at the following site. The media is so viscerally and viciously
against Trump and so focused on getting him removed that things are posted before both sides have been heard. Early conclusions, based on very partial information, are drawn by analysts, writers and bloggers as though they are established facts.

[4]

#7 Comment By Lllurker On May 19, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

“I think it is safe to say Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has already greatly enhanced his reputation.”

Sessions is already dangling at the edge of the Trump vortex so it is yet to be seen if his reputation will come through unscathed. He’s lied to Congress under oath. That lie to Congress was to conceal his communications with the Russians. He also appears to be complicit in the firing of Comey and the deceit about the real reason for the firing. And that was after he recused himself altogether from Comey’s most important case., a case that Jeff Sessions himself happens to have a connection to. (Hence the reason for his recusal in the first place.)

If that’s the end of it maybe the Trump vortex won’t suck him all the way in.

On the other hand each one of the above actions is what you would expect from a person who is desperately trying to conceal even greater sins, be those his own sins or those of others.

Trump of course assumes that he will get to pardon anyone who ends up needing a pardon, but that won’t fix anyone’s reputation.

#8 Comment By Lllurker On May 19, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

“Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russian investigation. By me, all is forgiven.”

+1000. That’s been the biggest change in trajectory we’ve seen in this whole mess. The thing is now a little less likely to play out to the favor of partisans, and a little more likely to unfold in a way that benefits the nation.

The Comey firing brought this on and my bet is that in retrospect the firing will be viewed as DT’s Rubicon.

#9 Comment By Lllurker On May 19, 2017 @ 1:03 pm

“But then the boss forgets the memo for the file and tells a tv interviewer the real reason for firing the guy.”

That pretty well defines both the man and his presidency to date.

#10 Comment By Lllurker On May 19, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

“Trump could have decided weeks ago to fire Comey due to the Russian kerfuffle (love that word)”

All fine and dandy except for the fact that it’s an active kerfluffle. That made Comey untouchable in the short term. Had Trump waited until the investigation had run its course it would have been a different story.

#11 Comment By Hound of Ulster On May 19, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

You notice that Trump nominates Rosenstein, and a week after Rosenstein is confirmed, Comey gets canned. Rosenstein then gets blamed when the Comey firing goes sideways. Rosenstein has a stereotypical ‘Jewish’ name. Trump has a lot of people, most notably Bannon, who have said, done, or writtten things that could be construed as Judeaphobic/anti-Semitic…it stinks to high heaven, is what I’m saying. It’s weird and very creepy on a lot of levels.

#12 Comment By WorkingClass On May 19, 2017 @ 1:33 pm

On the other side of this page Buchanan is saying Rosenstein has gone over to the dark side. I agree with Buchanan.

I guess I’m in the wrong church. I honestly believe Rod that you give aid and comfort to your enemies and that you are not the judge of character that you think you are. I know I won’t change your point of view and I have better things to do than troll you. So I will sign off and very sincerely – wish you well.

#13 Comment By YM On May 19, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

“If you read Rosenstein’s firing memo, it is likely that everything in it is factually true. But if so, they were truths written down for use in the telling of a lie, for misleading the American people.”

What is the lie, exactly? I don’t think that Trump said that the Russian investigation is why he fired him, it was one of the reasons, but not the only or even most important.

#14 Comment By Deggjr On May 19, 2017 @ 2:05 pm

FWIW, I think Rosenstein’s reputation is fine at the moment.

As others have said, he wrote a factual memo at the request of his boss. When Trump tried to pin the Comey firing recommendation on him, Rosenstein publicly objected. Trump took responsibility for the firing a day or two later.

Pence is the one who should be especially worried about his reputation. His yes needs to mean yes and his no needs to mean no. The opposite keeps happening for whatever reason(s).

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 19, 2017 @ 2:26 pm

Given the improved enforcement of immigration law and the crackdown on MS-13

Cracking down on MS-13 is always a good idea, but I doubt that Trump or Sessions have made any original contributions.

Enforcement of immigration law is, in the hands of this administration, going to boost public sympathy as more and more people who are deeply embedded in local flyover country communities, good neighbors, successful business owners, are mindlessly swept up. Already there have been reports of solid Trump voters saying “Oh no, not so-and-so…”

I can’t believe how a visceral personal dislike – hatred, really, if we want to be realistic – translates into a readiness to assume the very worst, verging even on bearing false witness…

That IS a good description of Trump’s m.o.

Remember this, Rod: The base does not care.

The base is under 30 percent of the American electorate.

So when your Netflix stutters worse than a RealPlayer stream over dial up you can thank them for siding with Comcast over the people.

I can still buy $3 DVDs at Big Lots. Wait a few years, some pretty good movies end up there.

#16 Comment By Chris On May 19, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

Trump press conference if @Deplorable advised him:

“Mr. President, why did you fire the FBI director?”

“Because I can.”

“But what were your reasons?”

“None of your business.”

“You don’t want to tell the American people why you chose to fire someone who is supposed to be independent and free from political whims?”

“Nope. I have the authority to remove the FBI director and I did it. My reasons are unimportant.”

Yeah…I’m sure that would have been better.

#17 Comment By Maggie Gallagher On May 19, 2017 @ 6:37 pm

I am really reluctant to comment. but my own view is this type of post is character assassination. Do you really think Sir Thomas More would have said if asked “Sir, my truthful memo is going to be used by you to justify a conclusion you have already come to. therefore my integrity requires me to not give you my opinion.”

This smacks to me of some of the less attractive measures used against good men in the gay marriage fight. If you are even associated with anyone who has done wrong in any way it is open season regardless of what you have done.

I don’t say this lightly and I have no pre-existing opinion of the guy you are saying is now smeared with Trump stigma.

But I do not recognize it as a Christian morality. He’s responsible for what he does, not for what Trump does.

#18 Comment By Blaze Sekovski On May 19, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

People that hate Trump are pre-biased to believe any negative attributed to him, whether verified or not. Recall, newspapers make claims on the front page, above the fold (for those of us who still touch paper), but corrections, if they ever come, are buried in the back.

The current Democratic party considers Christians the enemy. We need to realize the country and world would be worse with a president HR Clinton.

Is Trump a flawed human being? Yes. Do we wish he were better at his job? Yes. But I am at peace, knowing the Clintons are not back in the White House.