Omertà. That time honored code of silence among thieves.
Ah, but what happens when soldiers put self-preservation before omertà as they sometimes will?
Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s new book has not even hit the shelves yet and already people are talking. So is he. And so is DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein albeit through the statement of a DOJ spokesperson.
Frequently, when two individuals describe the same incident, two different stories are told. Each person has a unique set of interests to protect which almost guarantees there will be some variation between the two versions.
Consider the case of Andrew McCabe vs. Rod Rosenstein. There’s a bit of a conflict in their stories about what was said during their May 16, 2017 meeting. Actually, let’s make that a pretty major conflict.
And the beautiful thing about it is, it offers a great opportunity for the Trump team to exploit.
As we all know, the two had been discussing what they claim was President Trump’s increasingly disturbing behavior and the possibility of invoking the 25th amendment to remove him from office. Rod Rosenstein suggested he wear a wire to record his conversations with Trump.
When the New York Times reported news of Rosenstein’s remarks last September, he denied them at first. Finally, he admitted to making the remark, but said that he had been sarcastic.
McCabe, during a “60 Minutes” interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley about his soon to be released book, contradicted Rosenstein’s claim of sarcasm, telling Pelley that he had been serious.
We learned something entirely new about the May 16th conversation from McCabe which I mentioned in a post last week.
McCabe claimed Rosenstein told the group he had looked into the criteria required to invoke the 25th amendment and learned that 8 out of the President’s 15 cabinet members must be willing to declare that he was unfit for office. According to McCabe, “Mr. Rosenstein suggested that he might have supporters in the Attorney General and secretary of Homeland Security.” It’s worth noting that Trump’s mistrust and disappointment in former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for which he has been widely criticized, may have been justified. Also, the current secretary of Homeland Security at that time was General John F. Kelly. Kirstjen Nielsen succeeded him in December 2017 when Kelly took over his duties as White House Chief of Staff.
Consider Andrew McCabe. This is a man who was fired from the FBI for his lack of candor. The DOJ Inspector General’s report claims that McCabe lied to investigators on four occasions and recommended that the DOJ open a criminal investigation. Specifically, he lied to cover up a leak he had originated about the Clinton Foundation shortly before the 2016 election. A grand jury was convened in September to determine if McCabe should face false statement charges.
Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, offers his take on McCabe:
McCabe, like his equally duplicitous mentor and fellow book peddler Comey, apparently hopes to portray himself as a solitary moral bulwark against a corrupt, compromised president. He hopes further that we avert our eyes from his family ties to opposition party politics and big money, his abuse of FBI policies, attorney general guidelines and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, and his choice to lie to internal FBI investigators to protect himself.
Now, consider Rod Rosenstein. A spokesperson from the DOJ issued the following statement following McCabe’s “60 minutes” interview.
As to the specific portions of this interview provided to the Department of Justice by ’60 Minutes’ in advance, the Deputy Attorney General again rejects Mr. McCabe’s recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect. The Deputy Attorney General never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references. As the Deputy Attorney General previously has stated, based on his personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.
The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who is a former federal prosecutor, offered some expert analysis of this statement which he calls “deceptive and disingenuous.” First, he describes the context in which this conversation took place.
No one was in a joking mood when these discussions took place. McCabe was in the midst of formally opening a criminal investigation of the president, and Rosenstein was handwringing over the possible appointment of a special counsel.
McCabe and the FBI’s leadership had been trying to make a criminal case against Trump for months, and McCabe thought – wrongly – that the firing of Comey might be a sound legal basis for an obstruction prosecution.
Rosenstein, meanwhile, was reeling. He had foolishly thought the memo he wrote justifying Comey’s dismissal would win broad bipartisan praise.
Instead, Democrats strategically framed the dismissal as an attempt to obstruct the Russia investigation, and they lashed out at Rosenstein for his part in it.
The deputy attorney general became despondent: convinced that Trump had made him the fall-guy; desperate to get back into the good graces of the anti-Trump Washington establishment, with which Rosenstein had heretofore enjoyed good relations.
Right after he fired Comey, Trump intensified the controversy by rebuking the former director in a White House meeting with Russian diplomats.
Rosenstein and McCabe both concluded that the president was either unhinged or had possibly removed Comey in order to derail the Russia investigation (notwithstanding McCabe’s Senate testimony, right after Comey’s firing, that “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date”).
First, McCarthy points out that since Rosenstein “can’t credibly deny McCabe’s admission that the two of them talked about recording the president, Rosenstein resorts to the shopworn tactic of distorting the allegation.” The statement says Rosenstein denies “authorizing any recording.” Of course he didn’t and no one has accused him of this. He is being criticized for proposing the idea in a serious manner in the first place.
Second, the statement says “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.” McCarthy replies “no kidding! The 25th Amendment does not permit the deputy attorney general to trigger the process for removing an incapacitated president.” But in order to avoid admitting that he seriously considered recording the president to the point of speculation about which cabinet members would or would not support such a move, he answers to charges no one has made.
Here we have one former insider and one likely soon-to-be former insider. The men once played for the same team, but must now look out for their own interests. Their futures and possibly their freedom are at stake. For the first time, omertà is forgotten.
This is the stuff of prosecutor’s dreams. Obviously, one of them is lying. It shouldn’t be too hard to learn the truth. Several other DOJ and FBI officials attended this meeting.
Attorney General William Barr will hopefully appoint a team to further investigate the wrongdoing that has already been uncovered by Congressional committees. Because it would be difficult for DOJ officials to investigate their own colleagues, the appointment of a special counsel might be necessary.
Each government official involved must be questioned under oath and any conflicts or contradictions must be identified. Their answers will provide new opportunities for investigators to turn former co-conspirators against each other.
Investigators can then charge these officials with making false statements and turn their lives into living hells just as they once did to Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and others. Investigators must continue until the full truth is revealed and those responsible are held accountable.
We need only look at the long list of top-level FBI officials who have either been fired or have resigned in the past year to know that something extraordinary occurred. Long-time FBI officials don’t get fired or retire early over nothing.
Omerta will quickly fly out the window. Officials will abandon each other like rats deserting a sinking ship.
Politics has always been dirty, but the coordinated effort to delegitimize the presidency of Donald Trump is unprecedented. If this conspiracy is not exposed in it’s entirety, then Reagan’s vision of the shining city on the hill will be erased forever.