Rod Rosenstein may finally be out of time as America’s deputy attorney general tomorrow. Here are the things which bode well for firing him:
If the president has been waiting for a good time to can Rosenstein – which seems like a very strong possibility – then the Friday before both Superbowl Sunday and the State of the Union address could be it.
In a surprise show of unbiased journalism, The New York Times dropped a bombshell detailing conversations Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had with then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, FBI lawyer Lisa Page and fellow Justice Department and FBI officials in the spring of 2017.
Indeed, the DOJ even seems aware that Rosenstein – who perhaps is the department’s number 2 in more ways than one – may be due for a Friday firing during a busy news cycle. Maybe that’s why some of his colleagues seem to have been pulling out all the stops in apparent efforts to block Trump from issuing what would perhaps be his most satisfying pink slip yet (or perhaps his number two most satisfying set of walking papers after Comey).
After all, two Fridays ago, the now-thoroughly rebuked and infamous Buzzfeed “report” citing two unnamed DOJ “sources” dropped at what otherwise could have been a very good moment for Trump to have fired Rosenstein, i.e. the Friday before a long weekend during a government shutdown. Hence, the Buzzfeed “report” also seems to have hit at the right time to save Rosenstein’s bacon.
Further, ask around and most insiders will probably tell you that they’d normally expect a supposed bombshell like that to be published on a Monday or a Tuesday. That way it could have driven headlines for days before hitting the end of the weekly cycle.
You see, media narratives are known to lose potency over the weekend. So, if Buzzfeed had really felt that its story was strong, then it should have been more likely to have published it at some other time. However, the Friday publication date may have made more sense if the story was really only meant to create a temporary obstacle to Trump, and especially if Buzzfeed suspected that its reporting might come apart and lead to a backlash – which would also likely die down over a holiday weekend.
Further still, those in the know might also note that one of the reporters behind the recent Buzzfeed story, Jason Leopold, has been known before to plagiarize and make up fake news.
Additionally, we can tell you that back in 2016, when Buzzfeed expressed interest in my story, another one of its reporters told us outright that they wouldn’t publish one aspect of it for fear of ruining their relationship with the DOJ. Now, does that sound like journalism or perhaps does it sound more like something else?
Regardless, last Friday would have been a good time to fire Rosenstein too. It was a week after the Buzzfeed story and days after the subsequent fallout. The shutdown was still dominating the headlines and drama was looming large over the State of the Union.
So is it any surprise that Mueller’s team picked that day to arrest Roger Stone – at 6:00 a.m. with cameras rolling from CNN? Firing Rosenstein was out for obvious reasons after that.
And will tomorrow bring another Friday stunt from the DOJ? It seems like a definite possibility unless Trump beats them to the punch and fires Rosenstein first.
Now, of course, firing Rosenstein on any day would not be without consequences. Though he’s no longer in charge of the Mueller probe, it’s not difficult to foresee a lot of hemming and hawing, perhaps most of all from Buzzfeed.
However, that’s actually a good reason to get rid of Rosenstein now. It would be nice to let Barr take office without that unpleasant chore at or near the top of his list.
Further, regardless of the inevitable complaints from the Democrats, the plain reality is that the GOP is tired of Rosenstein’s various antics, including his stonewalling of Congressional subpoenas, and the party has the votes in the Senate to confirm Barr (and Rosenstein’s eventual replacement as well) strictly along partisan lines.
The party also needs Barr to take over with a clean slate, incurring as little controversy on himself and his leadership as possible. That means firing Rosenstein before Barr takes office. Let the Democrats try to explain why Rosenstein’s ouster is still relevant after the Superbowl and the State of the Union, with Mueller untouched and likely with Alan Dershowitz supporting Trump’s choice to let Barr start fresh and pick his own deputy.
Finally, there’s one more reason to fire Rosenstein now. The president perhaps said it best himself some months ago:
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