The Department of Justice is teetering under extreme pressure from outside power houses. The republican President Donald Trump has finally come to terms that he is indeed being investigated by the FBI for possible “obstruction of justice” wrongdoing.
There is lots of chatter out in the internet social media websites that because the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and his boss at the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions were so heavily involved in the machinations to fire the FBI Director James Comey based on a pretext to cover up for the real reason on May 9, 2017, that Mr. Rosenstein may feel obligated to recuse himself for any participation in the FBI’s Trump-Russian probe. The Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already had to recuse himself from the investigation, because of his work on the 2016 Trump campaign.
So far, this is just a lot of talk. Mr. Rosenstein has the spine to take the heat to where he will not recuse himself until it is absolutely necessary. Right now, it is still too early in the investigation process to make this decision. It could be that the FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller III will not require his testimony to build a strong “obstruction of justice” case against the president for his firing of Mr. Comey in order to derail the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.
The president has to be reeling from the news that the FBI Special Counsel Mueller is building a top notch staff to tackle this inquiry and that there will be a focus into the president’s business deals that could involve money laundering schemes with foreign governments and oligarchs.
As per the 6/16/17 VOX report, “In a Friday morning (6/16/17) tweet, President Donald Trump confirmed a recent Washington Post report that he is now under investigation, misdescribed what that investigation is about, blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt,” and appeared to attack his own deputy attorney general.”
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
“This tweet is significant because the president is now openly admitting that he is “being investigated,” after insisting for most of this year, truthfully, that he was not. The investigation into Trump reportedly began shortly after he fired FBI Director James Comey.”
“And then we get to the inaccuracies.”
“First off, Trump is not just being investigated for “firing the FBI Director.” He is reportedly being investigated over whether he tried to obstruct law enforcement investigations into his associates or into the Russia matter. James Comey’s firing is part of this scandal, but there’s more to it than that — as you can see in my lengthy timeline of the events at the heart of the obstruction of justice investigation.”
“Second, by “the man who told me to fire the FBI Director” Trump appears to be referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And Rosenstein did indeed write a letter to the president harshly criticizing Comey’s conduct and recommending new leadership for the FBI back in May.”
“He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!”
“Furthermore, the problem is not merely that Trump fired Comey. It’s the phony justifications his administration gave for the firing, it’s Trump’s own belated confirmation that a major factor in the firing was the Russia investigation, and it’s the troubling pattern of Trump’s attempts to interfere with investigations into his associates before the firing.”
And now the president and his cohorts are lashing out hard against Mr. Rosenstein for appointing the special prosecutor. They are doing everything in their power to discredit the ongoing FBI investigation as a bipartisan witch-hunt and the newly appointed FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller III as having an agenda.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AND IF THE DOJ’S DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROD ROSENSTEIN DOES HAVE TO RECUSE HIMSELF?
Here is the rest of the story…
On June 16, 2017, Philip Shenon of Politico Magazine penned the following report, “The Obscure Lawyer Who Might Become the Most Powerful Woman in Washington.”
“For someone on the job barely a month, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand was already facing plenty of incoming fire from her critics. Her big problem now: Her ultimate boss, President Donald Trump, could soon be among them.”
“Senate Democrats who opposed her nomination to the No. 3 job at the Justice Department said her legal career reflected a tendency always to support Big Business against the little guy, and they questioned her commitment to civil liberties during her years in the department under President George W. Bush. She has a “heavily skewed pro-corporate agenda,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat. The 44-year-old Brand was confirmed to her job on a party-line Senate vote of 52 to 46.”
“And now, the Michigan-born, Iowa-raised Brand, the daughter and granddaughter of Dutch dairy farmers, faces the prospect of scrutiny—and criticism—on a scale that few Washington officials could ever imagine.”
“Suddenly under attack himself by Trump, Rosenstein has suggested he is on the verge of recusing himself from supervision of the investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, whose pursuit of allegations of collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign has apparently enraged the president. On Friday, Trump suggested his relationship with Rosenstein—who named Mueller to the special counsel job—was at a breaking point. “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” Trump tweeted. “Witch Hunt.” The tweet came the morning after Rosenstein released a cryptic statement urging Americans to be skeptical of reports sourced to anonymous officials.”
Also on Friday, ABC News reported that Rosenstein, a career prosecutor before joining the Trump administration, has privately conferred with Brand about the possibility that she will need to take over the department’s oversight of Mueller, who took charge of the Trump-Russia investigation when the president fired his successor as FBI director, James Comey. Rosenstein had urged Trump to fire Comey over a separate issue—the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.”
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from the investigation. Should Rosenstein step aside—or Trump fire him in a fit of pique—Brand is next in line as Mueller’s supervisor. But if she gets the assignment and fails to perform as the president sees fit, she might soon also find herself—like Rosenstein and Mueller before her—under siege from Trump’s daily tweetstorms of rage.”
“Brand has enjoyed a glittering career, one that marked her early for a top job at the Justice Department in a Republican administration. Raised with three siblings on an Iowa farm, she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1995 and, three years later, from Harvard Law School.”
“She was active in the Federalist Society, the conservative lawyer’s group that has long been a talent pool for anyone interested in serving in the administration of a Republican president or on the Supreme Court. Brand was part of the legal team representing Bush in the Florida vote recount in 2000. She went on to be hired as a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy before joining Bush’s Justice Department. There, she helped shepherd the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.”
“In 2011, Brand became a top lawyer for the United States Chamber of Commerce, dealing with regulatory issues. It was that job that brought her much of the criticism during her confirmation battle, with Democrats alleging that she had proved herself too willing to do the bidding of large businesses that make up the Chamber’s membership. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, who voted to oppose her nomination, said Brand had “years of experience fighting on behalf of the biggest and richest companies in the world.” Senator Pat Leahy said that Brand had “long championed deregulation and the rolling back of vital environmental, consumer and labor regulations protecting the American people.”
“Republicans pushed back on the criticism, insisting that Brand had a reputation for integrity and that she was being judged unfairly for simply doing a lawyer’s job. “When she worked at the Chamber, all her advocacy was done to represent the views of her client,” said Senator Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “If you hire a lawyer, they are going to represent your view. We can’t assume an attorney personally believes in what they are advocating on behalf of their clients. Just ask criminal defense lawyers.”
All of which is to say that Brand might be about to walk into a political firestorm like nothing she’s ever experienced—with Trump pressuring her to close out the Russia “witch hunt” quickly, and Democrats already primed to view her with suspicion.
“Brand is in a very tricky spot,” Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith and Brookings Institution scholar Benjamin Wittes wrote in ajoint blog post on Friday. Both men know Brand and “admire her a lot.” But they said they were worried by her lack of experience as a prosecutor “or even a background in criminal law.”
“Rosenstein might welcome turning over the responsibilities to Brand because it would take him out of the immediate line of fire from the White House, especially if Trump follows through on reports that he might order the Justice Department to curtail Mueller’s investigation or fire him.”
“If Brand took over supervision of Mueller’s inquiry, she would face a dilemma if Trump gave the order—fire the special counsel or, if she refused, face her own dismissal or resignation from the Justice Department. Many legal scholars have drawn a comparison between the situation faced by Rosenstein—and now, possibly, Brand—and the so-called Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy resigned rather than following President Richard Nixon’s orders to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.”
“Brand would then face a choice: Will she be like Richardson and Deputy William Ruckelshaus, who left the Nixon administration with their reputations intact? Or will she be the second coming of Robert Bork, the third-in-command whose role in Cox’s firing helped cost him a Supreme Court seat a decade later? Richardson and Ruckelshaus went on to distinguished post-Nixon careers, with both men receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Democratic presidents.”
“It’s a lot for Brand to take in. As Goldsmith and Wittes wisely put it, “this task will require backbone—and a willingness not to last long in the job.”