Republicans are planning an attack on Rod Rosenstein that involves tying him to Christopher Steele and supposed partisan elements within the FBI. The New York Times has obtained a secret Republican memo explaining how they mean to extend their attack on the FBI to include Rosenstein.
Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.
The Rosenstein attack memo extends the memo Devin Nunes has written to justify Republican attacks on the Russia investigation—the #ReleaseTheMemo memo. That work primarily focuses on a single, seemingly trivial event: The extension of the FISA warrant on former Trump advisor Carter Page.
Putting the Republican pieces together, the plan is:
- Spend weeks discrediting former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele and insisting that his collection of memos on Trump’s activities inside Russia are a “discredited dossier” made up of entirely partisan attacks. Republicans consider this a done item, though none of them have yet identified just what Steele got wrong.
- Insist that in bringing at least one of these memos to the FBI, Steele was associating with partisan, Trump-hating/Clinton-loving elements within the organization who inappropriately accepted Steele’s memo as evidence against Trump. The highlighting of selected text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page is entirely to bolster this effort.
- Ultimately proclaim that the use of one of Steele’s memos as a part of the renewal of a FISA warrant against the already under investigation Carter Page, represents a sizable breach of protocol—a “bigger than Watergate” overreach that demonstrates just how far these partisan elements within the FBI and Justice Department were willing to go in order to “get Trump.”
The anti-Rosenstein memo builds on this plan by planting the idea that—because the deputy attorney general didn’t inform the FISA judge that the warrant was based on what Republicans want to paint as a hyper-partisan, unsupported rumor—he is also engaged in a plot against Trump. Which, of course, provides justification for firing Rosenstein. And Mueller.
The attacks on Rod Rosenstein would seem ludicrous, had the last year not already produced multiple attempts to prove that a Republican FBI director was a Democratic partisan. And that the Republican former FBI director hired to investigate Trump is also a Democratic partisan. So the idea that the Republican deputy attorney general who hired the Republican investigator might also be a partisan fits in squarely—even though Rosenstein was actually put in that role by Donald Trump.
Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney in Baltimore and the longest-serving U.S. attorney, is the incoming Trump administration’s pick to become the next deputy attorney general — the second-highest position in the Justice Department, according to a member of the Trump transition team.
The fact that Rosenstein was an existing US attorney may make it seem that he was a Democratic appointment, but he was actually the sole holdover from the Bush administration. Donald Trump already fired every Obama-appointed US attorney.
But even though Trump appointed Rosenstein, this isn’t the first time he’s tried to fire the Deputy AG for doing his job.
Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.
Republicans are now at a point where they’re attempting to discredit a Republican deputy attorney general for the appointment of a Republican special counsel to investigate the firing of a Republican FBI Director … and somehow they’re making an attempt to turn this into a partisan attack by Democrats. In order to support Trump, they’re willing to disown people who spent their lives not just in service to the nation, but as long-time Republican loyalists.
That takes some very, very selective editing of sources. Which is why Republicans may be willing to release the fiction of the #ReleaseTheMemo, but are completely unwilling to release the underlying facts.
Leave it to Devin Nunes to expose that one of Trump’s own appointees — a lifelong Republican, Federalist Society member, and former Ken Starr assistant — found probable cause that a Trump campaign staffer was an agent of a foreign power. Well done, sir.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 29, 2018