Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself and withdraw from any further role in directing or overseeing the Robert Mueller operation. Rosenstein’s material participation in the factual circumstances leading to the appointment of Mueller, which have also been cited as possible grounds for an obstruction of justice prosecution against the president, is more than enough to require Rosenstein’s removal as the sole DOJ official exercising supervisory authority over the scope and direction of Mueller’s activities.
Just weeks before Rosenstein appointed his former DOJ superior and mentor Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, Rosenstein recommended, in writing, that President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey. President Trump subsequently followed Rosenstein’s advice and fired Comey.
As soon as Comey was fired, the manipulative, dishonest ex-FBI Director leaked information (purely of his own creation) to publicly imply his firing was somehow an effort by President Trump to obstruct the FBI’s ongoing Russian interference investigation.
Comey’s leak immediately prompted Rosenstein to appoint their mutual friend and crony Robert Mueller as a Special Counsel to “investigate” the matter. All of this was done so quickly, with so little ostensible consideration or consultation with anyone outside the Rosenstein-Mueller inner circle, and without considering a single possible alternative appointment that the entire thing seems to have been pre-planned.
Even Mueller’s required check for conflicts of interest was rushed through, rubber-stamped barely a day after the appointment was made. The DOJ’s refusal to release any information or detail about this supposed conflicts check on Mueller only reinforces suspicions about the role of DOJ cronyism and bureaucratic self-protection at play in the creation of a perpetual legal and political antagonist to plague President Trump and his closest supporters.
Given how we have seen Rosenstein, Comey and Mueller operate, before and since the Mueller Cell was embedded in a DOJ silo away from all scrutiny, free to do as much mischief as its partisans see fit, it is more likely than not that this whole scheme was executed precisely to avert any possible scrutiny or pushback by anyone in the administration, or from anywhere else for that matter, before they could rush to seal their dirty little deal. The way these longtime DOJ cronies cynically short-circuited any institutional brakes on their sordid, lawless scheme to stick it to Rosenstein’s troublesome boss, the President of the United States, is consistent with their tactics leading up to and throughout Mueller’s roving legal 3-ring circus, now nearly 14 months into its existence and still counting.
It is interesting to note how Rosenstein and Comey so wanted Mueller to replace Comey as their reliable pinch-hitting Trump-persecutor that when Trump rejected Mueller for FBI Chief, Comey and Rosenstein almost instantly hatched a contrived scenario ensuring Rosenstein could, nonetheless, unilaterally install their crony Mueller to carry on with their designs to use the Democrats’ Russian collusion hoax as their excuse to set up an endless fake news media-fueling mechanism to distract the president and persecute whoever they could on his team.
ROSENSTEIN PRACTICES ‘ETHICS FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME’
Leaving aside the troubling ethical implications of Mueller’s having literally just been interviewed and passed over by President Trump for selection as Comey’s replacement when Rosenstein appointed him to investigate Trump, Rosenstein’s conflict of interest in acting as the sole DOJ official overseeing Mueller’s activities is simply undeniable and would be obvious to any ethical lawyer, or even to a law student who has studied professional responsibility for attorneys.
The conflict stems from the undisputed fact that Rod Rosenstein was a material participant in Trump’s decision to fire Comey and, therefore, is and has always been a potential witness in any potential obstruction of justice prosecution related to Trump’s firing of Comey.
Both the law and attorney ethics are crystal clear that no material participant in the factual circumstances of a case or controversy can also act as a prosecutor in the matter, or otherwise exercise any decisional authority over any aspect of its prosecution or disposition.
In short, someone who is, or could be, a witness in a case cannot also be directing its prosecution.
Were a witness to act as a prosecutor in a case, or a prosecutor be subject to giving testimony, the witness/prosecutor could easily make self-serving decisions impacting the course or disposition of the matter, such as by steering it away from their own involvement or even culpability.
Neutralizing an obvious conflict of interest like this is a requirement also imposed on judges, who are ethically obligated to remove themselves (or be removed) in such a circumstance.
The requirement is so stringent (and only more so in criminal matters) that merely the appearance of such a conflict is enough to trigger disqualification or demand recusal. If there is even a possibility an attorney could be a witness or has some material connection to the case, the attorney cannot be involved in its prosecution, either directly or indirectly.
Rod Rosenstein knows all of this. He has even been questioned about it in public hearings. Yet Mr. Rosenstein not only persistently and inexplicably flouts this legal and ethical prohibition but he does so in a matter of profound national consequence, with unavoidable political implications no less.
ROSENSTEIN’S UNETHICAL CONTAGION & A RUNAWAY MUELLER
Rosenstein’s ethical disregard and bureaucratic manipulations certainly have been reflected in how the Mueller probe quickly devolved into the equivalent of a legal fishing expedition. Its bizarre pursuit of seemingly everything but actual Russian interference, up until just recently, has been wholly consistent with the latent anti-Trump bias and belligerent resistance to any sort of independent oversight that have become the hallmarks of the Rosenstein Justice Department.
Mueller’s ad hoc “investigation” was initially portrayed by Rosenstein himself as limited to the narrow question of whether or not the Russian state acted to “interfere” in U.S. elections, specifically the 2016 election. Rosenstein and his apologists similarly led the public to believe that IF the probe uncovered interference by the Russian state, it would secondarily seek to ascertain whether any U.S. persons were involved and who they were.
Out of these investigative findings would then follow the determinations of whether the “interference” in fact amounted to criminal conduct warranting prosecution and whether such prosecutions should be pursued, which would be the last step in this process.
The reality of Mueller’s operation has been quite a bit different than this, and nothing close to a legitimate investigation following this basic progression. In fact, it has been conducted in a manner almost completely opposite to what one would expect in an orderly, responsibly-run investigative process.
Rather than begin from the legitimate investigatory premise of finding out whether there was actual Russian interference and, if so, following that evidence wherever it led, Mueller and his cohorts have clearly operated from day one on the partisan prejudicial presumption that Russian meddling not only occurred, but also that Trump and his loyalists must have been involved.
Mueller evidently saw no need to be bothered with having to first actually establish Russian intervention as a fact and then establish the details of who and how, which could then lead him to any U.S. persons who may have been party to it. Not even close.
Mueller instead made it his highly-dubious and ruthless mission to simply slash and burn his way through the lives of a handful of targeted Trump loyalists, or easily-intimidated low-level patsies having any sort of tenuous connection to the Trump campaign, on the premise that he could bully and bludgeon these people, while also scaring anyone else watching his indiscriminate blitzkrieg, into giving up the nefarious Russian connections he and his hit squad were certain existed and just needed to be shaken loose by a relentless iron fisted pummeling from Herr Mueller.
When Mueller’s bullies began coming up short, failing to find any credible evidence of Russian interference, much less of “collusion” by any of the select Trump-world targets, Mueller shifted to an even more cynical and abusive course of conduct in order to justify himself and keep his operation going. Mueller’s Plan B was to simply use all of the nearly-limitless resources at his disposal to begin digging around for anything whatsoever on any of the Trump people that his Ivy League thug squad could trump-up into any kind of “gotcha” criminal charge conceivable, no matter how disingenuous, pointless or contrived.
Of course, Rosenstein was more than willing to enable Mueller’s expansionist widening of the nets being cast in his open-ended fishing expedition. In fact, Rosenstein was quite eager to extend the secretive inquisition he had fathered to well beyond the annoyingly-fruitless confines of all that Russian interference or Trump collusion stuff.
Rosenstein was so pliant to Mueller’s serial requests for broader and broader authority that Mueller’s mandate has pretty much evolved into a general warrant — a form of blanket permission given by an authoritarian sovereign to investigate people rather than crimes — an abuse of power that our system was, in part, founded to abolish.
Rosenstein’s uncritical, self-protective rubber stamping of Mueller’s willy-nilly requests to keep expanding his “investigation” is at the root of how Mueller’s fishing expedition quickly devolved into the witch hunt we see still on the loose today, with no one at the DOJ possessing enough integrity or fortitude to put a stop to it, once and for all.
SCHEMES AND SCAMS: THE ROSENSTEIN-MUELLER WAY
Mueller and his subordinate attorneys, many of whom have their own questions of bias as supporters and donors of Hillary Clinton, have never conducted a legitimate, ethical, unbiased investigation of anything. They have waged an excessively aggressive, highly-politicized, so far almost completely unaccountable prosecutorial inquisition that single-mindedly focused its efforts almost exclusively on domestic allies of the president and on the prosecution of offenses either totally unrelated or totally irrelevant to the only valid issue that could remotely justify such an extraordinary operation: election interference by the Russian state.
As the 3rd ranking law enforcement official in the entire federal criminal justice system, Rosenstein’s ongoing misconduct and professional irresponsibility in willfully disregarding the fundamental ethical and legal requirement that he recuse himself (or be removed) not only casts serious doubt on Rosenstein’s motives, but also on his ethical and professional integrity. It is astonishing, in fact, that Rosenstein has not been removed, where he refuses to comply with basic attorney ethics and recuse himself.
But then this is just another aspect of the serious problems around Rosenstein’s autocratic role in deciding what Mueller can and cannot “investigate.” It begs the question, with Attorney General Sessions having recused himself, who is overseeing Rod Rosenstein?
Clearly the only higher official in this chain of command is the president himself. But it is glaringly obvious that Rosenstein’s Mueller operation is intent on going after the president, conveniently hamstringing the last possible source of executive oversight that, under normal circumstances, would serve as a check on Rosenstein’s decisions. The whole arrangement is so very convenient for Mr. Rosenstein and his autonomous ability to serve his own interests as the prosecutorial decider of a case in which he is already a participant and witness.
There are certainly other aspects to Rosenstein’s underhanded machinations sprinkled throughout this whole sordid abuse of extraordinary law enforcement powers. Rosenstein’s 30-year personal relationship with Robert Mueller comes to mind. Rosenstein basically appointed a close friend to spearhead an investigation prompted at least in part by Rosenstein’s own recommendation to the President to fire an incompetent, arrogant FBI Director, who himself had arguably meddled in the 2016 election.
There is also former FBI Deputy Director and Acting Director Andrew McCabe’s memo supposedly recounting a conversation with Rosenstein in which Rosenstein admitted to speaking with Trump about firing Comey and that they supposedly discussed Russia. This is but another material involvement of Rosenstein’s in the substance of this matter that clearly disqualifies him from overseeing any investigation involving the president, and the absurd claims that he somehow colluded with the Russian state in the 2016 election.
James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe and Sally Yates (then acting DAG) all signed one or more FISA applications to spy on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, knowing that the applications contained false and misleading statements, as well as unverified reports fraudulently used to bolster already-bogus grounds to secure a FISA warrant.
The notorious ‘Steele dossier’ was a critical part of the FISA warrant applications. Comey and Rosenstein knew that the dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign, but allowed this critical fact to be omitted from the application. Even worse, a shoddy article written by Michael Isikoff for Yahoo news was also cited extensively in the FISA application. Of course, the FISA warrant application also omitted that the article was itself based on the phony Clinton-purchased Steele dossier.
In December 2017, McCabe testified that no surveillance warrant would have been sought without the Steele dossier. On four occasions, the FBI told the FISA court that it “did not believe” former British spy Christopher Steele was the direct source for the Yahoo News article implicating former Trump aide Carter Page in Russian collusion. More lies upon lies upon which the entire Obama-Clinton illegal spying operation rested, now morphed into a rogue hit squad founded and perpetuated by one Rod Rosenstein, the criminal who now sits atop the United States Department of Justice.
If there is any real justice, the House of Representatives will soon vote to approve articles of impeachment against this deep state worm. If they don’t, President Trump has long had every righteous justification imaginable to send this arrogant two-bit lawyer to join his friends Comey, Brennan and Clapper on the assheap of history’s great losers.