Rod Rosenstein Taking His Ball And Going Home, Best Of Luck With Your Democracy And Rule Of Law!
This is NOT GOOD. This morning, ABC broke the news of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's imminent departure from the Justice Department.
Sources told ABC News Rosenstein wants to ensure a smooth transition to his successor and would accommodate the needs of [William] Barr, should he be confirmed.
Rosenstein apparently had long been thinking he would serve about two years, and there was no indication that he was being forced out at this moment by the president.
All the major news outlets have confirmed the story, so it's safe to assume that once the Senate rubberstamps Bill Barr for AG, Rosenstein is noping out of DOJ and heading back to Baltimore, where we will all pretend not to know who he is, in keeping with local custom. (Seriously, that's why they make movies here. Baltimoreans would rather die than acknowledge a celebrity.)
Bad enough that Barr, who expressed open hostility to the Special Counsel's investigation and called it "fatally misconceived," will be heading up DOJ. FFS, the guy was hired after "spontaneously" sending Trump's lawyers a memo theorizing that it is legally impossible for a president to obstruct justice by derailing a criminal investigation! Worse still, the GOP will now get to replace Rosenstein, giving direct supervisory authority over the Russia investigation to whichever craven hack kisses Trump's orange ass the hardest. Maybe Gregg Jarrett from Fox News to Deputy AG?
That said, let's not panic right away. Bill Barr may be willing to suck up to an authoritarian president to advance his own career, but he's no Meatball. Matthew Whitaker careens between debacles -- Big Dick Toilets, patent scams -- and only ever made serious money pimping himself out to conservative astroturf groups. Barr is an IRL respected attorney who isn't going to stumble into the sharp end of a congressional investigation by accident. He's smart enough to know that stomping in and shitcanning Mueller will likely net him hours and hours in front of Congress, in addition to millions of dollars in legal bills.
And indeed, those congressional investigations just got a whole lot sharper since Elijah Cummings, Jerry Nadler, and Adam Schiff took the gavels at the House Oversight, Judiciary, and Intelligence committees. Nadler has already threatened to subpoena Whitaker Friday if he doesn't arrange to testify, and Congressman Jerry did not come to play. Barr takes office knowing that he can't count on GOP cronies in the House to wipe his fingerprints off the knife if he murders the Mueller investigation.
Moreover, it's probably too late to put the Mueller genie back in the bottle. Prosecutors in New York have already indicted Michael Cohen, naming Trump as complicit in serious campaign finance violation. God only knows what's on those tapes the feds seized from Cohen's office, but we're assuming it isn't Trump debating what to buy for the Secret Santa pool at the office. Tentacles of the Russia investigation have spread to Virginia, California, New York, and DC -- and those are just the investigations we know about. Testimony from Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, Gates, Butina and the thousand other morons in this case don't disappear just because there's a new sheriff at the Justice Department. And even if Barr tries to suppress Mueller's final report, House Democrats will either subpoena it, or hold their own hearings to get that evidence into the congressional record.
GOP Senators will to continue to rubberstamp whatever bullshit Trumpland serves up, although it's darling that CNN pretends that Barr will face problems at his confirmation hearing because of the job application memo he sent to White House.
[Lindsey] Graham and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis were among a bipartisan group of senators that reintroduced legislation that would protect Mueller from "inappropriate removal or political pressure." The bill passed the Judiciary Committee last Congress across party lines but was never brought up before the full Senate for a vote.
Asked about Barr's memo on Mueller, before news of Rosenstein's planned departure broke, Tillis shrugged off Democratic concerns.
"Not yet," he told reporters when asked if he has concerns. "I'll be talking to him before the hearing, and then we'll have the hearing and we'll see where it goes from there."
Other Republicans defended Barr. "He wrote that as a private citizen," [Chuck] Grassley said Tuesday. "What you do as a private citizen is one thing. What you do as a public citizen is another."
GOP gonna Gee Oh Pee. But it's too late for them to bury this now. Particularly in light of yesterday's redaction fail by Paul Manafort's attorneys, which revealed their client's communication of sensitive polling data to Kremlin cronies during the campaign. The train has already left the station, and there's no stopping it. Anyone who stands in front of this is going to get run over, although we cordially invite the GOP to take their places on the tracks.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.