How Has Rod Rosenstein Managed to Escape Scrutiny?

Deputy Attorney General-designate, federal prosecutor Rod Rosenstein, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2017, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

I’ve never understood why former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has played such a pivotal role in the investigation of President Trump,  has received so little scrutiny. In March 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the disastrous decision to recuse himself from the Trump/Russia Collusion case because he had met twice during the 2016 presidential campaign with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This stunningly poor choice, which left Rosenstein in charge of the FBI’s investigation, changed the course of history.

First, we have Rosenstein to thank for the Mueller investigation.

In October 2019, watchdog group Judicial Watch released 145 pages of Rosenstein’s communications from the period of May 8, 2017, through May 22, 2017. No one should be surprised these documents prove that Rosenstein was indeed part of the deep state.

Here is a timeline of events from that period:

May 8, 2017: At President Trump’s request, Rosenstein wrote the memo in which he made the case for then-FBI Director James Comey to be fired.

May 9, 2017: President Trump fired Comey.

According to The New York Times, Rosenstein was angry “about how the White House used him to rationalize the firing, saying the experience damaged his reputation, according to four people familiar with his outbursts.” The Times reported:

According to one person with whom he spoke shortly after Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein was “shaken,” “unsteady” and “overwhelmed.”

Another person in touch with Mr. Rosenstein around that time said he sounded “frantic, nervous, upset and emotionally dis-regulated.” In one of these conversations, with the acting F.B.I. director at the time, Andrew G. McCabe, Mr. Rosenstein became visibly upset.

Mr. Rosenstein’s meetings show his mind-set at one of the most critical points in Mr. Trump’s administration — the eight days between when Mr. Comey was fired and Mr. Rosenstein appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel. In that stretch, Mr. Rosenstein went from a supporting actor in the dismissal of Mr. Comey to the official overseeing the investigation in which the firing was a focus.

May 12, 2017: Rosenstein sent an email to then future Special Counsel Robert Mueller telling him, “The boss and his staff do not know about our discussions.” This email tells us all we need to know, and had long suspected, about their relationship.

May 16, 2017: Rosenstein emailed former Bush administration Deputy Attorney General and current Kirkland & Ellis Partner, Mark Filip writing, “I am with Mueller. He shares my views. Duty Calls. Sometimes the moment chooses us.

May 17, 2017: Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to the Special Counsel.

During this time, Rosenstein was “in direct communication with reporters from 60 Minutes, The New York Times and The Washington Post. In an email exchange dated May 2017, Rosenstein communicated with New York Times reporter Rebecca Ruiz to provide background for this article about himself. Ruiz emailed Rosenstein a draft of the article, and he responded with off-the-record comments and clarifications.” Judicial Watch reports:

In an email exchange on May 17, 2017, the day of Mueller’s appointment, Rosenstein exchanged emails with 60 Minutes producer Katherine Davis in which he answered off-the-record questions about Mueller’s scope of authority and chain of command:

Rosenstein: “Off the record: This special counsel is a DOJ employee. His status is similar to a US Attorney.”

Davis: “Good call on Mueller. Although I obviously thought you’d be great at leading the investigation too.”

On May 17, 2017, in an email exchange with Washington Post journalist Sari Horwitz and the subject line “Special Counsel” Rosenstein and Horwitz exchanged:

Rosenstein: “At some point, I owe you a long story. But this is not the right time for me to talk to anybody.”

Horwitz: “Now, I see why you couldn’t talk today! Obviously, we’re writing a big story about this. Is there any chance I could talk to you on background about your decision?”

At the time, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “These astonishing emails further confirm the corruption behind Rosenstein’s appointment of Robert Mueller. The emails also show a shockingly cozy relationship between Mr. Rosenstein and anti-Trump media reporters.”

In September, Judicial Watch obtained a copy of a two-page memo written by then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on May 16, 2017. This memo was McCabe’s “contemporaneous recollection” of the infamous meeting held in then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office during which Rosenstein had allegedly proposed wearing a wire to record the President. McCabe wrote:

As our conversation continued the DAG proposed that he could potentially wear a recording device into the Oval Office to collect additional evidence on the President’s true intentions. He said he thought this might be possible because he was not searched when he entered the White House. I told him that I would discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.

In September 2018, The New York Times reported on this meeting. Their article said this group had allegedly discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. In addition, Rosenstein said he knew of one or two members of Trump’s cabinet who might be on board with such a plan.

Rosenstein has publicly maintained that he was being sarcastic when he made this comment. But nothing in McCabe’s memo suggests this to be true. Rather, McCabe wrote he told Rosenstein that he would “discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.”

The matter of whether or not he volunteered to wear a wire is only part of what he must answer for. He needs to be asked why he appointed a Special Counsel when the FBI had no evidence that Trump had colluded with Russia in May 2017. We know this for a fact because, during her Congressional testimony last summer, FBI attorney Lisa Page admitted it.

And DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recently released report confirmed it.

So, why did Rosenstein do it? He needs to be questioned under oath.

It was Rosenstein’s role to supervise the activities of the Special Counsel, and his apparent submission to Mueller suggests that Mueller was actually driving the bus.

Second, throughout Mueller’s investigation, Rosenstein stonewalled countless document requests from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 and 2018. Nunes’ Congressional investigation into Trump/Russia collusion was getting a little closer to the truth than the deep state bureaucrats would have liked. It wasn’t until Rosenstein was threatened with Contempt of Congress charges and a possible impeachment vote in April 2018 that he allowed Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to view a relatively, though not completely, unredacted copy of the Electronic Communication that opened the Trump collusion investigation.

On May 1, 2018, Rosenstein attended an event held at Washington, D.C.’s Newseum called “Law Day.” Here is what he told his audience.

There’s a lot of talk about FISA applications, and many people I see talking about it seem not to recognize what a FISA application is. Just like a search warrant, in order to get a FISA search warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career federal law enforcement officer who swears that the information in the affidavit is true and correct to the best of his knowledge and belief. And if it’s wrong…that person is going to face consequences…you can face discipline or even prosecution.

In July 2018, in response to a Judicial Watch FOIA request, the DOJ released documents relating to the FBI’s FISA court applications for a warrant (and subsequent renewals) to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Although heavily redacted, these documents revealed that Rosenstein had signed off on the third renewal in June 2017.

The FBI knew in January 2017 that the claims in Christopher Steele’s dossier were false. The FBI had interviewed Steele’s primary sub-source that month and this individual had debunked the dossier. The FBI’s own efforts to corroborate the stories had been fruitless as well. Agents held two more interviews with the sub-source in March and in May 2017, which erased any doubt, or should I say hope, that the dossier had merit.

This is to say that by June 2017, when Rosenstein signed off on the last renewal, he was well aware the dossier was bogus. But, what about his remarks to the folks on “Law Day” at the Newseum? He had told them that “In order to get a FISA search warrant, you need an affidavit signed by a career federal law enforcement officer who swears that the information in the affidavit is true and correct to the best of his knowledge and belief. And if it’s wrong…that person is going to face consequences…you can face discipline or even prosecution.”

In a recent article, American Greatness’ Adam Mill wrote:

On page 227 of Horowitz’s report, we learned that Rosenstein raised a question “about whether continued FISA coverage was going to produce useful information given that the FISA coverage targeting Carter Page had been leaked to the media.” Rosenstein was simply told that this renewal application was the last one “unless new evidence was uncovered.”

So Rosenstein signed the application in spite of the fact that he was absolutely right to doubt whether spying on Carter Page for another three months would develop any evidence. Indeed, Page has never been charged with a crime, leading one to wonder how Rosenstein could have justified continuing to spy on Page after the previous nine months of surveillance yielded nothing.

As indicated on page 229 of Horowitz’s report, Rosenstein claimed he first learned of the DNC funding of the Steele dossier from news media accounts but, “did not recall whether he knew it at the time he approved the third renewal.”

Horowitz’s report reflects that Rosenstein claimed ignorance of the many misstatements in the FISA application. But he clearly participated in the subsequent coverup.

Will Rod Rosenstein face any consequences?

America seems to have reached a place where the rule of law no longer has meaning. “If the law is to apply to one party and not the other, then there is no law.” And if there is no law, then America is moving toward tyranny.

Elizabeth Vaughn
Writer at RedState
Former financial consultant, options trader
MBA, Mom of three grown children
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