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.
The Latest: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expecting to be fired at the White House, after critical comments about President Trump. https://t.co/MvbBhDBgyf
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 24, 2018
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.
This may be the strangest day yet at the Trump White House. Rod Rosenstein was summoned to the WH to meet with John Kelly this morning. He expected to be fired. He wasn't. And now Rosenstein is attending a previously scheduled cabinet-level meeting (filling in for Sessions)
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) September 24, 2018
NBC's Pete Williams on @MSNBC: Rod Rosenstein appears to be staying put as Deputy AG, now attending a regularly scheduled meeting of top officials
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) September 24, 2018
I asked Justice Dept spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores whether she denies that Rosenstein has offered his resignation to Kelly. Response: “My only statement is that Rod is the DAG.”
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) September 24, 2018
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.
Statement on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: pic.twitter.com/yBgAydv9oR
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 24, 2018
But for today he’s safe. And as the poet said, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
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