New Questions Arise About Rosenstein’s Handling Of Mueller Probe

New reporting reveals how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cozied up to President Trump in the final months of Mueller's investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It’s been clear for some time that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is no hero – he is a survivor. New reporting today further reveals the lengths Rosenstein has gone to in order to keep his job and appease President Trump. It also raises new questions about Rosenstein’s ethics and whether he has been a fair broker in overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Washington Post reported:

Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.

Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.

“I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein said, according to an administration official with knowledge of what was said during the call. “I can land the plane.”

One senior Trump administration official told The Washington Post that President Trump left the phone call thinking Rosenstein was “on the team after all.” The report goes on to expand upon previous reporting that revealed how Rosenstein told Trump he was not a “target” of Mueller’s investigation. It also reveals Rosenstein told Trump he agreed that Trump was being treated unfairly and also echoed Trump’s attacks on the media.

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This is far from the first time Rod Rosenstein’s conduct has raised questions. Rosenstein played a role in writing the memo that outlined President Trump’s false reasoning for firing then-FBI Director James Comey. It was after being ordered to craft that memo that Rod Rosenstein suggested he wear a wire when meeting with President Trump, according to then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. From there, Rosenstein was seen as the key person who protected Mueller’s investigation but in the closing days of the probe, Rosenstein took a turn.

In his Senate testimony earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr used similar language to what Rosenstein reportedly told Trump on the phone, asserting: “I’m landing the plane right now.” Barr’s misrepresentation of Mueller’s findings has been widely criticized, but Rosenstein’s role in helping Barr clear President Trump of obstruction of justice has been scrutinized to a lesser extent.

Today’s Washington Post report raises new questions about Rod Rosenstein. Did Rosenstein urge Mueller to preemptively end his probe? There was reporting last year that indicated phase two of Mueller’s probe was set to examine President Trump’s middle eastern entanglements. What happened to that? Were there any covert efforts to stifle the Mueller probe’s resources or limit its scope after Rosenstein made those assurances to the President? If there was more corrupt conduct on the part of Rosenstein or Barr, the obstruction of justice never ended. A couple of hearings on Capitol Hill might help clear some of this up. CC: House Democrats.

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News // Donald Trump / Robert Mueller / Rod Rosenstein / Russia Investigation / William Barr