What Goes Around Comes Around: Deep State May Have Set Up Rod Rosenstein


When it comes to members of the so-called “deep state” that Republicans criticize, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is certainly one of the main members. But could he have been double-crossed by that same deep state?

At least one commentator thinks so.

Jeff Carlson is a former analyst and portfolio manager who usually discusses economics at his blog, The Markets Work. However, when Rosenstein appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last month, Carlson was watching along with the rest of us. In an exchange with Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz regarding the FBI’s application for a surveillance warrant of Trump campaign associate Carter Page from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Carlson thought he saw something that would be a blockbuster:

“The public information on the Carter Page FISA Application does not match the briefing Rosenstein received prior to signing the renewal,” Carlson wrote. “This is a highly significant revelation.”

Carlson would later back up why he thought this in a later post regarding the exchange.

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Here’s what Carlson thought was telling section of Gaetz’ questioning of Rosenstein:

Rep. Gaetz: “Did you read the FISA application before you signed it?”

Deputy AG Rosenstein: “I won’t comment about any FISA application.”

Do you believe this theory?

Rep. Gaetz: “You won’t say to the committee whether or not you read the document you signed that authorized spying on people associated with the Trump campaign.”

Deputy AG Rosenstein: “I dispute your characterization of what that FISA is about, sir.” (Emphasis is Carlson’s.)

And then Rosenstein said something that disquieted Carlson:

“My responsibility at that time was to approve the filing of FISA applications. Because only three people in the department are authorized to be the final sign off: the Attorney General, the Deputy, and the Assistant Attorney General for national security, which at the time, the position was vacant.

We sit down with a team of attorneys from the Department of Justice. All of whom review that and provide a briefing for us for what’s in it. And I’ve reviewed that one in some detail, and I can tell you the information that’s public about that doesn’t match with my understanding of the one that I signed, but I think it’s appropriate to let the Inspector General complete that investigation. These are serious allegations. I don’t do the investigation — I’m not the affiant. I’m reviewing the finished product, sir.” (Emphasis, again, all Carlson’s.)

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“If the Inspector General finds that I did something wrong then I’ll respect that judgment, but I think it is highly, highly unlikely given the way the process works.”

Given the interplay of all these elements, Carlson thinks that this means that, when Rosenstein is disputing the characterization of what the FISA application is about and the fact that he sat down with a set of DOJ attorneys, it could mean he was briefed incorrectly or signed a document he didn’t understand.

“Rosenstein was stating that what he’d been formally briefed on by DOJ lawyers was different than what had been disclosed in any of the three Congressional Memos detailing the FISA Application,” Carlson wrote. “What Rosenstein was formally briefed on was different than the FISA materials put before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees by the DOJ.”

Given the fact that Rosenstein points out that members of Congress from certain committees have viewed the classified FISA application (Gaetz was not one of them), parts of it have been detailed in the so-called Nunes memo and that House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte requested a copy of the Carter Page FISA application even though he had already seen it — with the implication that he wanted to compare documents — Carlson wrote that he thought this left only four possibilities.

  1. “The briefing given to Rosenstein by DOJ lawyers was factually inaccurate (one set of FISA documents).”
  2. “The FISA Application used to brief Rosenstein does not match the FISA Application presented to the FISA Court (two sets of FISA documents).”
  3. “The FISA Application presented to the FISA Court does not match the FISA documents given to Congress (two sets of FISA documents).”
  4. “The FISA Application given to the FISA Court does not match documents given to Congress or Rosenstein (three sets of documents).”

I’ll admit I’m not definitely not there yet. This view of Rosenstein’s testimony relies on a very specific interpretation of very vague words in Rosenstein’s testimony and what they referred to. Carlson believes they can be interpreted like this; he’s the only individual I’ve seen thus far insist they definitively proved this, which would be a very big deal indeed.

What information about what is Rosenstein referring to? The information the public has? That Congress has? That the DOJ attorneys had? The interplay between those elements?

He doesn’t say enough for us to judge. Furthermore, was the first time Rosenstein was going to appraise America of all of this during a congressional hearing — a hearing during which he was deliberately vague and evasive?

I have no doubt that Jeff Carlson is an impressive man, but there’s much about this affair that needs to be cleared up before anyone can say with certainty that the documents Congress received do not match the documents Rosenstein signed for a court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Then again, there’s a lot about the Carter Page FISA warrant that doesn’t make sense, and perhaps Rosenstein’s mish-mash of testimony may have inadvertently revealed that he was set up by his own deep state apparatus, which knew just how damaging the warrant would be.

It’s certainly a tantalizing prospect. Impossible to prove — or disprove — from the evidence that’s public so far, but tantalizing nonetheless.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture