Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Russiagate: The Rosenstein Run Around

Yesterday was almost comical. First Axios shredded it's nascent credibility by confidently reporting that Deputy Dog Rosenstein had been fired (a claim they later walked back during the day to where he had merely offered to resign. Althouse: Rosenstein resigns. Axios.
I know, Kavanaugh and sex sex sex are so distracting that this big story will just waft by unnoticed....
 Ace: Axios: Rod Rosenstein is Resigning to Avoid Being Fired "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

Hot Air: Breaking: Rosenstein Reportedly Submits Resignation — Ahead Of Being Fired; Update: Departure Discussed “All Weekend”? Update: “Felt Very Compromised”? 
Do we agree that today is officially lit? If true, this scoop by Axios’ Jonathan Swan will measure a 9.5 on the Kavanaugh scale.

Buckle up your seatbelts — it’s gonna be a bumpy ride to the midterms:
WSJ: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Expects to Be Fired, Clouding Mueller Investigation. Story had to be edited to fit the outcome.

CNBC: Dow drops more than 150 points on fears Deputy AG Rosenstein is leaving. Never Trumper David Frum writing for the Atlantic: Rosenstein’s Departure Is a National Emergency - Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is now in mortal peril. At least we get to find out his probably successor: Solicitor General Noel Francisco to oversee Robert Mueller probe under DOJ succession plan:
With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s ouster, Solicitor General Noel Francisco is slated to oversee the Robert Mueller probe under the Justice Department’s succession plan. Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge. Typically, the investigation would fall to the number three spot at the Justice Department, but Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand resigned earlier this year.

That leaves Mr. Francisco in line to oversee the probe, which President Trump has deemed a “witch hunt.” He hasn’t publicly addressed the probe, but has had harsh words for Mr. Mueller’s close friend, ex-FBI boss James Comey. Mr. Francisco was confirmed by the Senate in September 2017 on a narrow 50-47 vote, that fell largely along party lines. He once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he referred to as his “dear mentor,” during his Senate confirmation.

Although Mr. Francisco has remained mum on the Mueller probe he now stands to inherit, he has argued against government overreach in political corruption investigations. He even blasted frequent Trump sparring partner and ex-FBI Director James Comey for “heavy-handed” tactics in the bureau’s probe of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican. Mr. McDonnell’s conviction was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Mr. Francisco has also accused Mr. Comey of using “kid gloves” in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Sounds good to me. But perhaps alas, that was too good to be true for now. Within an hour or so, Rosenstein emerged from his meeting with Kelly, and everyone had to start revising their online stories. Reuters:  Rosenstein has not resigned, still U.S. deputy attorney general: sourceAfter chaotic day, Rosenstein stays in job but will meet with Trump. Red State: BREAKING. Rod Rosenstein Has Not Been Fired And Has Not Resigned. Hot Air: Rod Rosenstein Is Still Deputy Attorney General — Until Thursday.

So, at this point, the truth is that Rosenstein is still in place. He may or may not have submitted a written resignation to Kelly, who has not accepted it if he has, and he (Rosenstein) and Trump will meet on Thursday when Trump returns to Washington, in the midst of the Kavannaugh circus.

I confess, I still haven't made up my mind about Rosenstein. Is he a wolf in sheep's clothing, or his he a sheep in wolfskin? Is he really the last honest man in Washington, able to really navigate past all his own conflicts of interest or a Deep State operator of the first order?  Andy McCarthy is not a fan: Rod Rosenstein’s Resistance:
Rod Rosenstein is even a weasel when repudiating his weasel moves. Here (with my italics) is the deputy attorney general’s non-denial denial of a New York Times report Friday that he brainstormed about ousting President Trump in May 2017.
. . .
To summarize, when he thought it would be popular, Rod Rosenstein was all in on removing FBI director Comey, eagerly volunteering to write the coup de grĂ¢ce memo. When Comey’s firing ignited bitter protest and recriminations, a distraught Rosenstein blamed Trump for using him. The deputy AG ostentatiously sidled up to the bureaucracy’s “Trump is unfit” faction, expressing openness to wiretapping the president in an effort to force his removal under the 25th Amendment. Indeed, just days after his memo excoriating Comey, Rosenstein confided in FBI officials that he wished Comey were back at the helm and that he hoped to get Comey’s advice on the appointment of a special counsel.

When Democratic pressure to appoint a special counsel reached fever pitch with the Times’ publication of its report, based on a Comey leak, that Trump had pushed for the FBI to drop the Flynn investigation, Rosenstein decided to appoint a special counsel without specifying any crime against Trump. As he brainstormed about the possibility of ousting Trump under the 25th Amendment, Rosenstein flirted with the idea of appointing Obama’s deputy AG, James Cole, as special counsel. Ultimately, he appointed Mueller, the former Obama and Bush FBI director — Comey’s predecessor at the Bureau and colleague in the Bush Justice Department. Mueller staffed his investigation with top officials from the Obama Justice Department, which had green-lighted an investigation of Trump’s campaign.

Immediately after announcing Mueller’s appointment, Rosenstein further assuaged Senate Democrats, promising that Mueller would have no limits. Rosenstein then approved a FISA warrant application that alleged, apparently based on the Clinton-campaign-generated Steele dossier, that the FBI believed Trump campaign officials were complicit in Russia’s hacking conspiracy against the 2016 election. Subsequently, Rosenstein memorialized his authorization to Mueller to investigate “allegations” of collusion — apparently without spelling out any collusion evidence and very likely relying on the Steele dossier.
More background from CTH: Sunday Talks: Tom Fitton Discusses McCabe and Rosenstein With Maria Bartiromo…

Sunday Talks: Trey Gowdy Discusses Kavanaugh, Rosenstein, Sessions and Declassification…

Sunday Talks: Chairman Devin Nunes Discusses McCabe -vs- Rosenstein on FISA Abuse…

Well, until Thursday, then!

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