Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Hill -- If Rod Rosenstein recuses himself, Robert Mueller may be next

“A news report today sent Washington into another spasm when it appeared that ABC and other news outlets reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein confirmed that he might have to recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russian investigation.

“Like invading Russia in winter, it appears that participating in the Russian investigation is a prospect fraught with peril for those on the front lines. While the news account has not been verified, there is actually very good reason for Rosenstein’s recusal. Moreover, any recusal by Rosenstein would add questions about the status of Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself.”

Robert Reich: 

In a tweet early this morning [Friday], Trump said “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”

It’s the first admission by Trump that the FBI is investigating him -- presumably for obstruction of justice. But he seems to be blaming Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel. It’s Mueller who is investigating Trump.

Later this morning, Rosenstein issued a statement that “Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” adding “Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”

So what’s going on? Here’s my reading:

1. Trump is furious with Rosenstein for appointing a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to take over the FBI investigation after James Comey was fired.

2. Trump would like to fire Rosenstein and put a loyalist into the position, in order to have more control over Mueller’s investigation. This would clear the way for Trump to fire Mueller. In testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Rosenstein vowed to refuse any order to fire Mueller without justification.

3. The FBI investigation is leaky. The Washington Post has been reporting on it daily, citing anonymous sources. The leaks could give Trump an excuse for firing Rosenstein, on the grounds that Rosenstein is doing a lousy job supervising the FBI.

4. Rosenstein doesn’t want to give Trump any excuse for firing him, so his statement this morning is best seen as a preemptive move.

If Rod Rosenstein recuses himself, Robert Mueller may be next

By Jonathan Turley