Tag Archives: Rod Rosenstein

Glad that deputy AG is staying put for now

I am glad to hear the news that Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is staying at his post for a while longer.

I’ve heard the term “heat shield” applied to Rosenstein’s presence near the top of the Justice Department chain of command. It’s an apt term.

Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to the post of special counsel to look into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered with our election in 2016.

Then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Why? Because he worked on the Trump campaign and he knew he could not investigate himself. He followed DOJ rules and regs and infuriated Trump in the process. Trump then fired Sessions.

William Barr is the new attorney general. Mueller is finishing his investigation.

Rosenstein needs to stay on his watch to help ensure that Mueller is allowed to finish his task under his own power.

I trust AG Barr to allow Mueller to do his work. However, the special counsel — who has impeccable credentials — cannot have too many eyes keeping tabs to ensure it’s all done correctly, ethically and transparently.

How does deputy AG define ‘right thing’?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has developed a finely tuned flair for cryptic comments.

Such as what he said about his new boss, Attorney General William Barr.

Rosenstein said Barr will “do the right thing” regarding the possible release of the Robert Mueller report, which the special counsel looking into the alleged “collusion” with Russian government operatives is going to send soon to the AG.

Hmm. The “right thing,” yes? How does the deputy DOJ official — the man who appointed Mueller to the job of special counsel — define the “right thing”? I hope it means that Barr will release as much of the report to the public as he can.

I believe strongly the Muller report needs to be placed before the public for our perusal and determination. He has spent a lot of taxpayers’ money examining whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Rosenstein is leaving the Justice Department next month. Barr has just taken over a department wracked by controversy and chaos. The president has exacerbated it by his hectoring of former AG Jeff Sessions, who did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe. Rosenstein then selected Mueller to lead the probe into alleged collusion. Meanwhile, the president — who proclaims his total innocence of any collusion — has called the investigation a witch hunt.

What is the “right thing” for Barr to do? Let the public see what is in it, what it lays out, what Mueller has learned.

Mueller report delayed? Fine, I can wait

Robert Mueller was supposed to have handed his final report on The Russia Thing to Attorney General William Barr sometime next week.

Now it appears the special counsel won’t be doing so just yet.

Am I worried? Not in the least. I trust the former FBI director to do right by whatever it is he was asked to do when he took the job as the lead investigator into alleged collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian government operatives.

Mueller has been at this for some time. More than a year in fact. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein selected him to lead the probe after then AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything to do with the Russia matter.

You’ll recall the bipartisan praise that accompanied Mueller’s appointment. Democrats hailed it. So did Republicans. They all thought Rosenstein made an inspired choice. He couldn’t find a more qualified, more honorable, more integrity-filled individual that Robert Mueller to get to the bottom of The Russia Thing.

The president, sadly, has changed his tune. He calls the Mueller probe a witch hunt. He fired Sessions as AG. He selected a toadie as acting AG. He then found a solid veteran of the Justice Department, Barr, to lead the agency.

You can count me as one who wants the Mueller investigation to reach its conclusion. I had hoped he would release his findings to Barr sooner rather than later.

However, I am not dismayed. I still trust that Mueller is going to wrap it up, hand it over and I hope insist to the attorney general that the findings are made public.

Americans have a lot invested in this probe. Its findings are ours to peruse, to digest and to make judgments on what they reveal.

Mueller is a pro and he is doing his job well

Robert S. Mueller III doesn’t need a chump blogger such as me out here in the middle of Donald Trump Country to defend him.

I will do so anyway.

The president of the United States and his allies have squawked themselves hoarse — in a manner of speaking — while denigrating the work that Mueller has done in pursuing the truth related to “The Russia Thing.”

Trump calls Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt,” he calls it “rigged,” and asserts that Mueller has found zero evidence of “collusion” between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system.

I am forced to wonder aloud: How does someone pile up 37 indictments and guilty pleas while conducting a “witch hunt”?

Back when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, deputy AG Rod Rosenstein selected Mueller — a former FBI director and a crack prosecutor — to lead the investigation. Mueller’s appointment was greeted in the moment by partisans on both sides of the aisle with universal acclaim. Politicians called it an inspired choice and were delighted that Mueller accepted the challenge of getting to the root of the Russia matter.

Then he began sniffing out Donald Trump’s closest aides and campaign advisers. Suddenly Mueller’s name became mud in the eyes of Republicans. Donald Trump has been relentless in his haranguing of Mueller via Twitter.

I continue to believe that this decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, a former U.S. Marine, is the man who partisans hailed when the Justice Department named him special prosecutor.

Having said that, do I want this probe to end soon? Yes! I do! I want Mueller to wrap it up. However, I want him to finish his task without interference from the DOJ, or from William Barr, who’s been nominated by Trump to be the next AG to succeed Jeff Sessions. I have faith that Barr will honor his pledge to let Mueller finish his task under his own power and on his own terms.

I’ll just make one request — yet again — of the special counsel: Release as much as he possibly can of what he finds to the public. We are spending a lot of public money on this probe and the public deserves the chance to see if this money is worth the investment we have made in the pursuit of the truth.

Hoping new AG lets Mueller finish his task

I have hope that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has some deep inside knowledge that he’s now sharing with us.

The South Carolina Republican says that Attorney General-designate William Barr is going to let special counsel Robert Mueller finish the job he began more than a year ago. His task is to determine whether the allegations of “collusion” between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system are true; he also is examining allegations of obstruction of justice, of conspiracy and perhaps all kinds of matters related to the 2016 election and beyond.

Trump selected Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as AG, whom the president fired because he had the gall to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Sessions had the good sense to recognize potential conflicts of interest, given his role in the campaign and in the transition. He couldn’t investigate himself, so he handed it off to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who then appointed Mueller as special counsel.

Mueller is getting down to brass tacks, or so we are being led to believe. He has extended the term of a grand jury another six months. Mueller reportedly will finish his probe in late February or in March.

He needs to conclude this investigation on his own terms, under his own power and without interference from the new AG, or the White House or the president himself.

Rosenstein reportedly is going to leave DOJ after Barr gets confirmed. Barr will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I am quite sure senators will ask him directly whether he intends to let Mueller do his job. Sen. Graham says he will.

Don’t tease us, Sen. Graham.

Trump doesn’t ‘know’ the guy who’ll lead DOJ?

Let me see if I have this straight.

Donald John Trump fired the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. He had a No. 2 guy at the Justice Department who under normal circumstances would be elevated into the top job on an interim basis.

But the president went to the No. 3 guy, Matthew Whitaker.

Then the president tells the nation that he doesn’t “know Matt Whitaker.” That’s right. The president of the United States, who has the authority to name the nation’s top law enforcement officer — our top legal eagle — doesn’t “know” the individual who’ll get the job?

He expects us to believe that? He wants to believe the idiotic lie that the president doesn’t know the individual who’ll call the shots at the Justice Department?

I’ll back up for just a moment. The No. 2 legal eagle at Justice happens to be Rod Rosenstein, who selected special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign’s allegedly improper dealings with Russian agents who attacked our electoral process in 2016. Trump clearly felt he couldn’t pick the deputy AG because, well, he would allow Mueller’s probe to continue without interference.

So that’s why he went with Whitaker, the guy the president now declares he doesn’t “know,” which is a direct contradiction of what he said earlier about his relationship with the new acting attorney general.

Who in the world does Trump think he’s talking to? We aren’t a nation of rubes who cannot connect the dots. Believe me, there ain’t many dots to connect here as it regards the president and the man he wants to lead the Department of Justice.

I am left to wonder once again, with emphasis and more than a hint of hostility: How does this man continue to win the support of his craven followers?

The president is a pathological liar.

Is there a constitutional crisis on the horizon?

Jeff Sessions is gone. The Department of Justice has a new acting boss, a guy who happens to be a Donald Trump sycophant, someone who has been openly critical of an investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s alleged “collusion” with Russian agents.

So, what’s in store? Acting AG Matthew Whittaker could fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Donald Trump could order him to do so. What would a firing engender? It would, in my view and in the view of many observers much closer to the situation, ignite a constitutional crisis of the first order.

Trump pushed Sessions out the door because the former AG thought enough of the law to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He did so because of his own involvement in the Trump campaign and his own relationship with Russians. He could not possibly investigate himself. The law and an appreciation of ethics and conflict of interests forced him to back away, forced him to hand the matter over to his No. 2 man at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein.

It was Rosenstein who hired Mueller to examine the complex matter.

Trump once asked “what kind of man?” would recuse himself from this probe. I can answer that one for you, Mr. President. That man would be someone who understands and appreciates ethical propriety. That’s why he recused himself.

Don’t misunderstand me on this point: I am not a fan overall of Jeff Sessions. On this matter, though, he did the right thing. He did the only thing he could do. Trump castigated Sessions for accepting a job and then recusing himself from a key part of that job. He never once questioned his own decision to appoint Sessions in the first place. Had he given any substantive thought to what might play out down the road upon his being elected president, he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions to become attorney general.

So now we’re facing the real prospect of a constitutional crisis if the acting AG — and his pal the president — commit the mother of foolish acts.

Robert Mueller needs to stay on the job. He needs to finish what he started. He needs to let this probe play out completely without interference from the president of the United States.

Sessions is gone; let the battle commence

There goes compromise, collegiality, comity, courtesy.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been shown the door. The day after the midterm election, Donald Trump made good on his threat. He asked for Sessions to submit his resignation; the AG did and now he’s out.

What’s next? Let’s see, the president will nominate a new attorney general who more than likely won’t recuse himself from the “Russia thing” probe, which Sessions had to do. More on that in a minute.

This appointment might put special counsel Robert Mueller’s expansive and extensive investigation into alleged “collusion” between Russian agents and the Trump presidential campaign into jeopardy.

Trump, though, says he has “no interest” in ending Mueller’s probe. You believe the president, right? Me, neither.

I am no fan of Jeff Sessions, but he did the only thing he could do by recusing himself from the Russia investigation. He served on Trump’s foreign policy team during the campaign. He played a role in whatever happened between the Russians and the campaign. He couldn’t possibly investigate himself, so he backed away, handing the Russia probe over to his No. 2 man at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein.

Sessions’s recusal infuriated the president, who wanted Sessions to act with total loyalty and fealty to the man who nominated him. That, of course, is utter nonsense. Sessions did the right thing and he incurred the president’s wrath for doing it.

One more time, with emphasis: Be sure to let Mueller complete his investigation, Mr. President. If there’s nothing there, then Mueller should be allowed to say so himself. But if there is something … well, then we all have a problem.

Where is the outrage?

Hang on just a doggone minute … or two!

Donald Trump flew on Air Force One this week with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They talked at length, reportedly, about this and/or that. Rosenstein at this moment is up to his eyeballs in an investigation involving the president’s 2016 campaign and whether it “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

I’ll now flash back to that election year. Former President Bill Clinton met on an airplane with then-AG Loretta Lynch. They reportedly talked about grandkids and other personal matters. The Justice Department was investigating that e-mail matter involving the ex-president’s wife, Hillary Clinton, who was running for president herself.

Republicans went ballistic. They became apoplectic, accusing the former president of trying to influence the AG. Indeed, the ex-president had no direct say in anything involving the DOJ.

GOP pols didn’t believe him and Loretta Lynch when they said they didn’t discuss anything about the e-mail matter.

Where is the outrage now, with the current president meeting at length with the current deputy AG who is involved in an on-going investigation into the president?

Hypocrisy, anyone?

Chaos continues at White House

Donald J. Trump keeps saying all is well at the White House.

Well, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

The president was going to meet this past week with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reportedly said some things about the president’s fitness for his job as commander in chief.

Then the meeting was postponed. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee got in the way.

Now we hear that Trump might postpone the Rosenstein meeting yet again, waiting for the Kavanaugh matter to run its course.

Trump and Rosenstein have reportedly spoken by phone. That’s good. At least they’re talking to each other, although none of us knows what they might have said to each other.

I am just amazed one more time with the chaos that continues to grip the White House, the West Wing, the Oval Office, staffing at many levels. Even more amazing is the president’s continuing denials that chaos rules within the Trump administration.

I happen to hope that Trump leaves Rosenstein alone, keeps him on the job, allows him to supervise the investigation into the “Russia Thing” being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

You may choose to believe or disbelieve this, but I actually want this investigation to conclude.