Trump Is Unhappy with Rod Rosenstein

First, a brief recap: In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was obliged to recuse himself, much to Donald Trump's chagrin, "from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States." That left Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge of the any federal investigation into Russian interference in the election, and, in May, one week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein, who provided the rationale for firing Comey, appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to assume responsibility over the Russia investigation.

Trump has been ceaselessly preoccupied with Mueller's investigation, even as he continues to boast that it will soon exonerate him. And it appears that his ire has turned to Rosenstein. Buried deep in a WaPo piece, about how Trump says he won't fire Mueller, is this passage:
Advisers who have spoken recently with Trump about the Russia investigation said the president was sharply critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller operation — but did not broach the idea of firing Mueller.

"I think he realizes that would be a step too far," said one adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share a private conversation.

Rather, Trump appeared to be contemplating changes in the Justice Department's leadership. In recent discussions, two advisers said, Trump has called the attorney general "weak," and complained that Rosenstein has shown insufficient accountability on the special counsel's work. A senior official said Trump mocked Rosenstein's recent testimony on Capitol Hill, saying he looked weak and unable to answer questions. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein as "a Democrat," one of these advisers said, and characterized him as a threat to his presidency.

In fact, Rosenstein is a Republican. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated him to be U.S. attorney in Maryland.

On Monday morning, after this story was published, a White House spokesman reached out to The Washington Post to say that Sessions and Rosenstein are safe in their jobs.
Maybe so. Or maybe Trump is considering replacing Rosenstein because Rosenstein is the only one with the power to fire Mueller, and Trump doesn't think (or has already discovered) that Rosenstein won't bow to the pressure to do it.

As Josh Marshall notes at TPM:
Rosenstein is the key figure in the whole drama.

At least in theory, only he can fire Mueller. I stress, in theory. Trump can fire Rosenstein and keep firing people until he finds someone at the DOJ who will fire him. This is precisely what happened in the so-called "Saturday Night Massacre" during the Watergate scandal. President Nixon eventually found Robert Bork, who fired Archibald Cox. It was a Pyrrhic victory, which at least hastened and possibly even caused the end of Nixon's presidency.

Rosenstein is the key figure since for the purposes of the Russia investigation, he is the Attorney General. If Trump replaced Jeff Sessions with someone else, Rosenstein's status would end because the new Attorney General would not be under a recusal as Sessions is. That should make confirming a new Attorney General quite difficult. But if he fired Rosenstein as well, he could find someone else to take over on an acting basis. And the President has been quite creative in deciding who to pick in those cases.
Rosenstein is also a fairly inscrutable figure, because, as Marshall further observes, he's also "the man who has been complicit in most of President Trump's bad acts — from the firing of Comey itself to the decision last week to release a trove of private text messages between two FBI employees into the public domain."

What does it all mean? Well, your guess is as good as mine at this point, but what we know for sure is that Trump is a liar. He is almost certainly lying about wanting to fire Bob Mueller. And he is reportedly unhappy with Rosenstein, who is variously willing and unwilling to do Trump's dirty work.

So I'd recommend steeling yourself for the possibility that Trump will fire Rosenstein if he refuses to fire Mueller, and then install someone who is more willing to carry as much water as any one human can bear. With his (used advisedly) #1 agenda item to shitcan Mueller.

We have been on the brink of a Constitutional crisis for an entire year. If we end the year without Trump plunging us headlong into Constitutional chaos, it will truly be a holiday miracle.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus