NYT: Rosenstein felt used in Comey firing

The New York Times reports Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein felt used by the White House during the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. CNN's Evan Perez reports.

Posted: Sep 23, 2018 3:39 AM
Updated: Sep 23, 2018 3:56 AM

The New York Times has just published a blockbuster article (citing anonymous sources) reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested to other officials within the FBI and Justice Department that he should secretly tape President Donald Trump, and discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rosenstein denies the Times account, and former officials say it sounds like something Rosenstein would joke about rather than seriously suggest But the article, combined with Bob Woodward's new behind-the-scenes book, "Fear," and the anonymous Times op-ed described as written by a high-level official claiming that a secret "resistance" inside the administration was keeping Trump in check, adds to the already compelling evidence that Trump's White House is out of control.

Even Trump's closest advisers apparently don't have confidence that the commander in chief can be trusted to handle the job.

For critics of the administration, Rosenstein has emerged as a hero.

Rosenstein has appeared to be resolute in protecting the integrity of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He has not allowed the President's incessant attacks to shake his resolve, occasionally pushing back on ones that have been made on him. His supporters believe that Rosenstein has been the only thing preventing an enraged President from shutting down Mueller's team of legal eagles.

Yet the Times article also brings back the question of what exactly these officials think they are accomplishing. While some Americans who are unsettled by Trump's antics might draw comfort from believing that "adults" in the room are keeping him under control, the Times now reminds us how much silence there has been from those in the know and how complicit these officials have been in propping up an administration they don't think is viable.

Rosenstein seems to know that President Trump cannot be trusted to handle sensitive information. He wrote a memo critical of how the former FBI Director James Comey had handled the Hillary Clinton investigation, but was reportedly shocked when Trump publicly used his work to support his decision to fire Comey.

And he knows better than anyone else how President Trump has been willing to mount an all-out assault on the legitimacy of law enforcement institutions. He has watched the President discredit him, discredit Mueller, discredit Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and discredit anyone who poses a threat to him. The President has played fast and loose with the facts as he has spread false information through his Twitter feed.

But Rosenstein has chosen to remain part of this administration anyway. After allegedly being so upset with how President Trump handled the Clinton memo, he should have understood the risks of producing any kind of work for Trump given how it could be misused.

There have also been several occasions when Rosenstein chose to appease the Freedom Caucus, Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, rather than stand up to them. He allowed Republican legislators to review unredacted FBI documents about the Russia investigation and he has been responsive to Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, even as they move to impeach him. In other words, with President Trump and with the Freedom Caucus, Rosenstein has tried to straddle the center when dealing with political leaders who have no interest in rational governance.

Now the revelations about Rosenstein threaten to give Trump the very ammunition that he has been looking for to purge the Justice Department. What is the likelihood that he will use this story, even while denying its veracity, to declare that Rosenstein has been plotting against him and can't be trusted to oversee an investigation into the administration?

It didn't take Donald Trump Jr. long to tweet out: "Shocked!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realDonaldTrump."

Rosenstein, who has done more than almost anyone to try to protect the separation of the Department of Justice from an aggressive President, might end up being the rationale for Trump to move forward with his own version of the Saturday Night Massacre.

The Times article appears to give further evidence that reasonable and dutiful White House officials who fear this President but refuse to say so publicly, remain part of the problem. They give credibility to the White House and help to mask the threats that the nation faces from the commander in chief.

If the private fears that we keep hearing about are accurate, it is time for these officials to air their views more publicly. The elections this November will determine the balance of power in Congress. By working in the shadows and keeping dramatic observations to themselves, even the most well-meaning officials become part of the apparatus that insulates the Trump presidency.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 592750

Reported Deaths: 7376
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1226641731
Ramsey51369875
Dakota45906452
Anoka41713438
Washington26899283
Stearns22238222
St. Louis17758304
Scott17275124
Wright16034140
Olmsted1324298
Sherburne1170887
Carver1049145
Clay815792
Rice8056107
Blue Earth750441
Crow Wing665089
Kandiyohi655783
Chisago599751
Otter Tail574978
Benton570297
Goodhue478072
Douglas467875
Mower465732
Winona454550
Itasca437556
McLeod423659
Isanti421364
Morrison419260
Nobles407748
Beltrami395559
Steele388315
Polk384168
Becker380253
Lyon360651
Carlton345254
Freeborn341729
Pine328622
Nicollet326143
Brown305440
Mille Lacs304553
Le Sueur291723
Todd282132
Cass272828
Meeker256340
Waseca236222
Martin230632
Roseau209019
Wabasha20533
Hubbard189341
Dodge18493
Renville180243
Redwood174337
Houston171816
Cottonwood164923
Fillmore156310
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Faribault152319
Chippewa152238
Kanabec144626
Sibley143510
Aitkin134936
Watonwan13279
Rock128219
Jackson121812
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11026
Murray10639
Swift105218
Stevens91311
Marshall88117
Clearwater86816
Koochiching83315
Wilkin81512
Lake81119
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5768
Mahnomen5499
Norman5399
Unassigned50093
Kittson48622
Red Lake3967
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367061

Reported Deaths: 5938
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57642625
Linn20869335
Scott20044241
Black Hawk15813308
Woodbury15132228
Johnson1448383
Dubuque13374208
Dallas1118298
Pottawattamie11122168
Story1061748
Warren577988
Clinton555693
Cerro Gordo540389
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481199
Des Moines457166
Wapello4301122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419272
Plymouth401280
Lee375855
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291837
Carroll285952
Bremer284560
Crawford266140
Boone264834
Benton256655
Washington253750
Dickinson248443
Mahaska230351
Jackson222142
Clay215625
Kossuth215364
Tama209771
Delaware209641
Winneshiek196934
Page192722
Buchanan191332
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184637
Hamilton179949
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler164934
Madison162319
Mills162222
Floyd160942
Cherokee158938
Lyon158041
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148234
Winnebago142431
Calhoun138513
Cass138554
Grundy136333
Emmet134340
Jefferson132435
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120521
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9740
Keokuk95931
Monroe95129
Ida90335
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
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Adams3384
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