It was the newcomer in the Department of Justice, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who was the FBI Director Comey’s Brutus. It is my opinion that there is no way that a professional with only two weeks on the job, initiates a memo on his own initiative to fire the high profile FBI Director who is in the middle of a major well publicized investigation.
His boss is the same US Attorney General Jeff Sessions who had to recuse himself from any investigations having to do with his office’s probe into Russia’s intervening in US politics, after it had been made public that he did not come clean about his meetings with Russian officials while he was a part of the president’s campaign team at his confirmation hearings.
It has been reported by more than one news source that the president had decided to fire the FBI Director Comey by Monday morning (5/8). As per the 5/10/17 Washington Post report by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa, “Back at work Monday morning (5/8/17) in Washington, Trump told Vice President Pence and several senior aides — Reince Priebus, Stephen K. Bannon and Donald McGahn, among others — that he was ready to move on Comey. First, though, he wanted to talk with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his trusted confidant, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, to whom Comey reported directly. Trump summoned the two of them to the White House for a meeting, according to a person close to the White House.”
“The president already had decided to fire Comey, according to this person. But in the meeting, several White House officials said Trump gave Sessions and Rosenstein a directive: to explain in writing the case against Comey.”
“The pair quickly fulfilled the boss’s orders, and the next day (5/9/17) Trump fired Comey — a breathtaking move that thrust a White House already accustomed to chaos into a new level of tumult, one that has legal as well as political consequences.”
“Rosenstein threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.” (What did he think he was doing when he signed the memo which was highly critical of Director Comey?)
The NY Times has reported that Director Comey’s coworkers told its reporters that he had formally advised his boss, Mr. Rosenstein that the FBI required additional resources to properly conduct the investigation into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 US presidential elections and whatever coordination occurred between the president, his associates and Russian operatives. The justice department has been denying that this conversation ever took place the day before Mr. Comey was fired.
Now, remember that the FBI Director James Comey had already been under a wide-ranging review by the Justice Department’s inspector General Michael E. Horowitz regarding Mr.. Comey’s management and handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation and her usage of a private server while she was the US secretary of state. This inquiry of Mr. Comey had been announced and started before the republican President Donald Trump was ensconced in the White House.
Since the Inspector General (IG) had not yet completed his evaluation of Mr. Comey’s actions, the timing of the White House’s decision to fire the director, is indeed questionable. They (Trump administration officials) had the opportunity to wait to act at the completion of the IG investigation.
What’s even more disturbing is the way the president fired the FBI director – allowing Mr. Comey to learn of his firing from media reports while he was visiting the Los Angeles FBI office. There had not even been a courtesy phone call. It has been reported that the president had his personal security guard hand deliver the firing letter to the FBI office in Washington DC. This was insulting to Mr. Comey and to the entire FBI.”
The DOJ’s Deputy Attorney has one chance to redeem his reputation. He can hold a press conference to announce that there will be a competent non partisan special prosecutor assigned to oversee the Trump-Russian saga. Yes, he may be fired but he would have repaired his damaged image as the president’s unwitting chump.
On 5/10/17, David Leonhardt of the New York Times penned the following op-ed piece, “Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test.
“Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.”
“Now Rosenstein’s reputation is permanently damaged, as it deserves to be. In that damage is a lesson for other subordinates and allies of Trump.”
“When Rosenstein accepted his job at the Justice Department, many observers hoped he would be the adult who would moderate the excesses of Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But it is enormously difficult to resist pressure, persuasion and incentives from one’s bosses, especially when those bosses are running the country.”
“Rosenstein’s moral test arrived after just a couple of weeks on the job. He failed it, evidently without putting up much of a struggle.”
“He was willing to be “exactly the mouthpiece Trump needed,” as Slate’s Leon Neyfakh put it. Rosenstein wrote a memo that claimed James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was fired for his handling of the Hillary Clinton inquiry that Trump and Sessions had once praised fulsomely. And Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, wrote the memo only a few days after Comey had come to him and requested more money for it, the Times reported.”
“Rosenstein has also enabled Sessions to violate his own recusal from that Russia investigation. Throughout the rushed process of firing Comey and looking for his replacement, Sessions has remained central — as if the Russia inquiry and Comey’s status were separate issues. The notion that Rosenstein is overseeing that investigation has become laughable.”
“I’ve said previously I hope that good people already working in the executive branch remain in their jobs and that smart, principled Republicans come to staff many jobs in the Trump administration.”
“But Rosenstein’s abandonment of the basic principles of ethical government should remind everyone of the risks of joining Team Trump. Once you do, avoiding Trumpian behavior becomes very hard. Adopting it starts to seem normal, even honorable.”
“Remember, though: There is no job, not even at the highest levels of government, that is worth your reputation.”
“As Peter Wehner, a longtime Republican aide, writes in today’s Times: “The Republicans who have so far stood in lock step with Mr. Trump, defending him at every turn, need to ask themselves whether they want to continue to be complicit in this institutional assault. By now it should be clear to them that having Donald Trump’s back will cost them their integrity.”
This blog was updated on 5/11/17.