Rod Rosenstein must resign now
If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has an honorable bone in his body, he’ll resign his office before his planned Thursday meeting with President Trump. After last Friday’s bombshell New York Times report that Rosenstein had discussed wearing a wire to secretly record the president, and had discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment as a means to remove the president from power, resignation is the only honorable course of action left to him.
Rosenstein, of course, denied the Times’ account – “The New York Times’ story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he said, before later putting out a second statement saying, “I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestions that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.”
Note that in neither statement does he actually deny suggesting secretly recording the president as if Trump were a mob boss. Rosenstein merely says the story is “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” without specifying what, exactly, is inaccurate and factually incorrect, and later says he “never pursued or authorized recording the president,” which implies that he did, in fact, suggest it in one form or another, but just never pursued or authorized it.
Some have suggested he was “joking” when he said it. Frankly, it makes no difference whether he was joking or not – there are some things you just don’t joke about, and secretly recording the president when you’re in the midst of a group of professionals who actually secretly record people for a living is one of them.
Rosenstein is reported to feel that he has been “compromised” by the Times’ report. Understandably. It is clear he is not on Team Trump, even though he serves at President Trump’s pleasure. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said it best: “I’ve been pretty clear since my beginning of service here in this administration. If you can’t be on the team, maybe you’ve got something else to do.”
It was clear Rosenstein was not on Team Trump from the very beginning of his tenure as the Deputy Attorney General. Less than a month on the job, he wrote a memo outlining the reasons for firing then-FBI Director James Comey, then was said to be upset when President Trump followed his advice and fired Comey.
In the wake of Comey’s firing, of course, Rosenstein was the DOJ official who appointed Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to oversee an investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. As President Trump tweeted shortly thereafter, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!”
Only in Washington – that is, in the midst of the Swamp – would the president’s tweet look odd. To the millions of Americans who watch the Swamp from afar, it made perfect sense, and Trump’s complaint seemed perfectly rational. Democrats are, naturally, up in arms about the prospect of a Rosenstein resignation. Said House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, “It’s very upsetting … This is the next step in a slowly evolving, slow motion Saturday night massacre in which the president is getting rid of all the people who were involved in initiating or carrying out the investigation of obstruction of justice by him.”
Hmm. Nadler may be onto something there. If we remove the words “the investigation of obstruction of justice by him” – An “obstruction of justice” investigation that was based on a setup from the start – and replace them with “the Resistance scheme to undermine the election results of 2016 and cripple a legitimately-elected president,” he’s got it.
Rosenstein should resign not just because The Times reported he suggested secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment, but because he has acted to block Congress’ efforts to provide legitimate and constitutional oversight to the Justice Department. He has withheld documents from congressional overseers, made misleading statements to Congress, and defied multiple congressional subpoenas. He has not served President Trump well, and this latest revelation is merely the icing on the cake. Rosenstein should step down now.
Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.