By Dan Calabrese
I’m always circumspect when dealing with anything that comes from anonymous sources, so I’ll note that here.
But I do know that Donald Trump is in a bit of a pickle where this whole thing is concerned for one simple reason: It’s much more difficult to deal with a Rod Rosenstein departure if it comes about via firing instead of a resignation. If Rosenstein resigns, then Trump can appoint an acting replacement to serve indefinitely without having to deal with any sort of confirmation process. If Trump fires Rosenstein, he has a much more difficult process to go through – and that gets tricky since any Rosenstein replacement also inherits oversight of the Mueller investigation.
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Maybe keeping Rosenstein on is the path of least resistance no matter what he tried to do. Or maybe because of what he tried to do, Trump thinks he’ll have an easier time keeping Rosenstein under his thumb. There’s no more earnest employee than one who knows he just barely escaped a bone-head move with his job still intact. But will it be after tomorrow?
It seems amazing that it could be true after what we were hearing on Monday, but yeah, it just might be:
The president has told advisers that he wants to hear directly from Mr. Rosenstein about reports that he discussed secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to remove him from office, according to people who have spoken to the president. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The president’s willingness to hear out Mr. Rosenstein signaled to advisers that he harbors doubts about whether the top official in fact sought to have him ousted him from the Oval Office, these people said. The issue arose after the New York Times reported that Mr. Rosenstein floated the idea in early 2017, something he has strongly denied.
Republicans in the House were preparing a subpoena for memos allegedly detailing Mr. Rosenstein’s comments on surreptitiously recording the president, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Rosenstein has been a target of the president’s ire as part of his disdain for Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but those tensions eased in recent months, White House officials said. According to people familiar with the matter, aides have counseled the president that Mr. Rosenstein is cut from a different cloth than James Comey or Andrew McCabe, two former FBI officials who have been sharply criticized by Mr. Trump.
“The president is genuinely conflicted,” said one person who has spoken to the president. “He’s got an open mind about whether Rod really tried to orchestrate this.”
If Rosenstein really tried to secretly record the president to set him up for a 25th Amendment takedown, that’s about as fireable an offense as you could possibly imagine, although I would argue that withholding documents from Congress in light of a lawful subpoena comes awfully close.
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Ultimately this whole thing comes back to Jeff Sessions’s foolish and unnecessary decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, which has put Trump in a position of having to deal with a guy in Rosenstein who clearly has his own agenda apart from that of his boss – and considers himself immune from all accountability because the political class and the media hate Trump and continually demand that Rosenstein not be touched.
This whole “wearing a wire” thing might be a bridge too far for even them. But I’ve also read in recent months that the working relationship between Trump and Rosenstein has actually improved, to the point where Rosenstein regularly briefs Trump personally on a variety of other matters – which must have made this whole 25th Amendment business rather stunning to Trump, if it really happened.
Did it? We only have the word of the failing New York Times, after all. If Trump decides he wants to take Rosenstein’s word for it against them, how hard can it be for Trump to convince himself the whole thing is garbage? Maybe not that hard.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!
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