Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, walks to the stage during a Religious Liberty Summit at the Department of Justice, Monday, July 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

 

So we had a boomlet of reporting this morning that Rod Rosenstein had either been fired or had tendered his resignation in lieu of being fired.

and this fueled another boomlet among internet lawyers and Ted Lieu over whether Trump could appoint an acting deputy attorney general if he fired Rosenstein. (IANAL, but the idea that any final court ruling is going to conclude that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act forbids the president from naming a successor to any fired political appointee while allowing him to replace them if they resign strikes me a bizarre.)

But now it seems that Rosenstein is still firmly ensconced in his position.

On a couple levels, this is not surprising. Firing Rosenstein now, amidst the Kavanaugh confirmation fight and with a crucial mid-term election looming would be manifestly unwise. This is not to say that doing unwise things is outside the realm of possibilities when predicting any action by President Trump, but he has a keenly honed survivor’s instinct and that counts. Secondly, we’ve seen over time that the best way to ensure your job security with Trump is to leak to the news media that you’re about to be fired. Trump would much rather point-and-laugh at the media for erroneous reporting based on anonymous sources than he would fire someone.

I suspect that Rosenstein is on very thin ice, and deservedly so. Even if his statement, as documented in McCabe’s meeting notes, about wiretapping Trump was facetious, him not only not stomping hard on people talking about invoking the 25th Amendment but seeming to go along with the idea says he is simply too disloyal to the administration to be tolerated in a position of responsibility.

But for today he’s safe. And as the poet said, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

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