Thank You Rod Rosenstein, Sniveling Toady!
Thanks, Rod! No really. The deputy attorney general appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller and protected the Russia investigation for 18 long months, despite a sustained campaign of harassment by Donald Trump and his howler monkey minions. The president of the United States tweeted photos of him behind bars, House Republicans threatened to impeach him, and Rosenstein just kept showing up and doing his job. The country owes him a profound debt of gratitude for weathering that storm. But Rod Rosenstein is also guilty of shameful, partisan acts -- most recently lending his accumulated credibility to Bill Barr's pathetic whitewash of the Mueller Report -- for which he deserves only derision. So, as he exits stage right, it would behoove him to keep his head down and refrain from taking a victory lap. He really, really should not do THIS:
We use the term "rule of law" to describe our obligation to follow neutral principles. As President Trump pointed out, "we govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] … the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will."
OH, NO HE DIDN'T. He did not go out there and hold up Donald Trump as a beacon of principled government and neutral application of the law. He could not possibly have described the man who tried dozens of times to end the investigation into Russian hacking and instead sic law enforcement on his political enemies as standing for heroic American values. There's no way in hell that he's describing a person who is currently flouting all congressional oversight, including that mandated by the plain language of the statute, as a heroic advocate for equal justice under the law.
Just kidding, of course he is!
Here's another excerpt from Rosenstein's speech last night to the Armenian Bar Association:
Justice Anthony Kennedy explained it this way: In a rule of law system, when you apply to a government clerk for a permit and you satisfy the objective criteria, you are not asking for a favor. You are entitled to the permit, and it is the clerk's duty to give it to you.
He failed to mention the well-known codicil where Justice Kennedy said, "Except if the law says Congress gets to see the president's tax returns. Then it's a favor, and a Republican president is totally entitled to tell those haters to get fucked."
Go on, Rod, tell us how you personally saved democracy.
At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican senator asked me to make a commitment. He said: "You're going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you'll do it right, that you'll take it to its conclusion and you'll report [your results] to the American people."
I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion. I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.
Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America. The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.
So that happened.
Just one or two minor quibbles, Mister Peepers. First of all, the Obama administration wanted very much to publicize the massive campaign of Russian hacking, but Mitch "Grim Reaper" McConnell threatened to accuse them of politicizing the information if the president warned states that Russia was trying to breach their voting systems. With McConnell's encouragement, states like Georgia blew off warnings of Russian interference, and even destroyed ballot data to ensure that no one would ever be able to verify the vote tallies. Very cool, very legal!
Secondly, as Lawfare's Benjamin Wittes points out, the FBI "disclosed classified evidence" to Congress, AKA briefed them in a classified setting, at the behest of the Senate Judiciary Chair. Because otherwise Rod Rosenstein wasn't going to get confirmed as deputy AG.
Another thing: The congressional briefing of which Rod complains here took place because Sen. Charles Grassley woul… https://t.co/fhBmuxhoVO— Benjamin Wittes (@Benjamin Wittes)1556248905.0
Oh, Rod, you silly, forgetful scamp! Did you also forget about all the times you caved and handed over highly classified info on FISA warrants and pending investigations to Devin "Cow Kisses" Nunes and Jim "I Ain't Seen Shit" Jordan? Lucky thing those guys never leak, LOL.
So, yeah, that happened. But if we're being persnickety about stuff like linear time, we have to point out that Rosenstein was confirmed in April, and Comey's allegation that Trump pressured him to let Michael Flynn go was in July. So "before I got there" is a rather odd way to describe that series of events. In fact, "the former FBI director" only became "former" because Rosenstein himself drafted a memo saying that Comey had to be fired for being SO MEAN to Hillary Clinton. Which was an about face for Rosenstein, who had praised the "former FBI director" for the very behavior he later described as a firing offense, as CNN's Josh Campbell points out.
@matthewamiller I’m reminded of a story from the @Comey book (which I was present for), in which Rosenstein praises… https://t.co/inMp9xWbLq— Josh Campbell (@Josh Campbell)1556245167.0
And a lawyer's job is to advocate for his client, even when he takes a position that is not in accord with his own personal beliefs. But Rod Rosenstein knew damn well that Trump was firing Comey in an effort to end -- some might say "obstruct" -- the Russia investigation, since he'd seen the original memo cooked up by Trump, Jared Kushner, and Stephen Miller between rounds of golf at Trump's club in New Jersey. That You're Fired letter made clear the explicit connection to the Russia investigation, which is why Rosenstein and Don McGahn snatched it away and came up with the facially preposterous cover memo excoriating Comey for his treatment of Hillary Clinton.
And Don McGahn may be a self-serving swamp creature who ratfucked the FEC, but at least he admits to being a shameless Republican hack. He doesn't draft a cover memo to allow his boss to stick a shiv in a career public servant, then go out there and spout this shit.
The question explains why I devoted my career to law enforcement: because the rule of law is the foundation of human liberty. The rule of law secures our freedom. It will secure our children's freedom. And we can only achieve it if people who enforce the law set aside partisanship, because the rule of law requires a fair and independent process; a process where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the government. I do not care how police officers, prosecutors, and judges vote, just as I do not care how soldiers and sailors vote. That is none of my business. I only care whether they understand that when they are on duty, their job is about law and not politics.
There is not Republican justice and Democrat justice. There is only justice and injustice.
We all saw you, asshole. We saw you stand up and pretend Meatball Whitaker was a perfect choice to lead the Justice Department. We saw you sit there as your boss attacked career law enforcement officials claiming that there was a plot to tank his campaign and stick wiretapps in his ass. We saw you happily preside over an agency that demonized Muslims, while downplaying the danger of white supremacists. We saw you march the Mueller Report up to the White House and let them read it before handing it over to Congress. We saw you lend your credibility to Bill Barr when he claimed that Mueller handed the charging decision on obstruction off and that no reasonable prosecutor could indict on that evidence. We saw you spend three weeks on the Sharpie party, so that Trump and his minions could take a victory lap and establish the storyline that it was a total exoneration. We saw you stand behind Barr at that press conference where he lied and said that Mueller's charging decision had nothing at all to do with DOJ's prohibition on indicting a sitting president. We see you now participating in the Justice Department's campaign to obstruct congressional oversight. And we see that your Department is doing precious little to protect us from Russian interference in 2020 as you pat yourself on the back saying, "Today, our nation is safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes."
You're not a hero who fell on the grenade.
There is a story about firefighters who found a man on a burning bed. When they asked how the fire started, he replied, "I don't know. It was on fire when I lay down on it." I know the feeling.
You knew that bed was on fire, and you lay down in it anyway. You're a little better than the rest of the craven Republican whores, but not that much. You all know what Trump is. You've always known he's a demented demagogue who can rally the bigots by playing on their fears of having to share the country with scary brown people who don't know their place. You knew what he was, and YOU DID NOT CARE. You wanted your judges, and you wanted to keep rigging elections so that the minority party can continue to win with fewer votes. And you didn't give a damn what you had to do to get them.
So the very least you could do, Rod, is slink off quietly to collect your FedSoc KochBux. You're not Kurt Vonnegut. You're not Leon Jaworski. You're a weak, little man who one time did a very noble thing.
SLOW FUCKING CLAP.
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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.