Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rod Rosenstein Screws the Pooch


File this under unforced error of the century. If a New York Times story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wanting to secretly record Donald Trump and looking to invoke the 25th Amendment is true, you can start the countdown now. Even if the story isn't true, the fact that it's out there will give Trump all the justification he's been looking for to get rid of Rosenstein and appoint someone who will end the Mueller investigation. Already the Trump whisperers at Fox News are goading him on. Since we know he has the impulse control of a toddler, it wouldn't surprise me if Rosenstein is shown the door by Monday. Of course there's always the possibility that Trump might wait until after the midterms and fire both him and Jeff Sessions, who has basically been on the chopping block ever since he recused himself in the Russia probe.

Naturally the Justice Department is pushing back on the Times' piece, and Rosenstein himself issued a statement which read, "The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment." Talk about a non-denial denial.

Unfortunately for Rosenstein, ABC has confirmed the story. But according to the Huffington Post, the comments were made in "jest." "I remember this meeting and remember the wire comment," the source said. "The statement was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president."

Personally I don't care whether Rosenstein was joking or dead serious. You just don't say shit like that in an environment where other people can hear you and later leak your comments to the press. Rumor has it that the leaker was former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is now under investigation for lying to internal investigators. Apparently he's not too thrilled about the way he was treated by the Justice Department. Hell hath no fury like a fired employee.

To be fair, Rosenstein isn't the only person within the government to mention invoking the 25th Amendment. Both Bob Woodward in his book Fear and a senior administration official who wrote an op-ed piece in the Times have said that it was discussed as a possible remedy to protect the country from this president. The difference is that while the identities of Woodward's sources and that of the op-ed writer remain anonymous, Rosenstein enjoys no such protection. He's about as anonymous as an earth quake.

This isn't the first time a member of the Justice Department or FBI has fed the paranoia on the Right of a deep state looking to depose this president. Besides McCabe's faux pas, both Lisa Page and Peter Strzok exchanged text messages that clearly showed animus towards Trump. While the Inspector General's report made clear there was no evidence that either of them tainted the investigation, the damage was done nonetheless. And now, thanks to Rosenstein's carelessness, an already tenuous situation at the DOJ has become even more precarious, and the most important investigation this country has seen since Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of treason hangs in the balance.

Jesus, I knew we had a president who was thoroughly inept; what has become painfully obvious is that he appears to have a lot of company.

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