Raw Story now confirms a new report that Rod Rosenstein, everyone’s favorite Deputy Attorney General (everyone outside the WH), wasn’t played at all, with respect to Trump and the firing of Comey. Rosenstein knows enough that it could conceivably cause problems. He knew all along that Trump fired James Comey over the Russia investigation. I grant you, given that Trump said as much on TV the very next night makes this somewhat “old news,” except for the Rosenstein knowing beforehand, and believe it or not, it matters.
Rosenstein told now fired former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe in May 2017 (right around the time Trump fired Comey) that Trump “asked” Rosenstein to “reference” Russia in the memo that Trump ordered Rosenstein to write, the memo recommending Comey’s firing. However, Rosenstein didn’t cite any details to McCabe about what Trump wanted Rosenstein to say, reported the New York Times.
McCabe became quite disconcerted by the conversation, and as a result, he wrote his own confidential memo afterward (I guess FBI guys write a ton of memos) about the very fact that Rosenstein helped Trump essentially “make up” a legitimate reason to fire Comey.
Guess who has that memo now? Nothing gets by Special counsel Robert Mueller who has the secret memorandum.
Watergate veteran John Dean weighed in on whether this might impact Rosenstein as part of an obstruction of justice probe, the quote comes from Rawstory:
“I don’t think necessarily so,” Dean said. “What I see is, he’s clearly showing what Trump’s intent was to try to incorporate somehow justifying the firing. The summary of it suggest to me that another drop of water that shows us a little bit more of Trump’s steady intent as to why he fired Comey — and it was because of the Russia investigation, and that was very much on his mind.”
John Dean is such a straight-shooter, reliable guy now, that I have to remind myself that he took the fall, or part of it, anyway, in Watergate, and has a felony on his record for obstructing justice. He knows what he’s talking about.
“It’s no smoking gun, let’s say that,” Dean said. “I don’t think this is in itself evidence of obstruction, but we’ve just seen a broad pattern of behavior, and with this obstruction there’s two types. There’s one, what comes under the statute where even an endeavor to obstruct can be criminally charged, and then we have political obstruction, which is what the Congress will be considered as they did with Clinton, when he was addressed with a charge of obstruction as was Nixon, who had a very strong case against him.”
For whatever it is worth, I agree with Dean. There comes a point when someone guilty of something criminal (it can be near anything except the big felonies, violent and white collar) and yet help the prosecution so much that the prosecutor doesn’t charge the conduct. Prosecutorial discretion, a term sometimes despised by people, has been around as long as prosecutors have tried cases.
A lot of trust is put upon prosecutors to make the decision whether certain conduct is worth charging. Generally speaking, my experience has been that 90% of prosecutors are decent people trying to do the decent thing. I know Robert Mueller is 100x the prosecutor or lawyer I’ll ever be and will make a decision that makes sense. I’d bet a ton that it makes sense to leave Rosenstein – rightly – to the side.