THE ENIGMATIC ROD ROSENSTEIN SHEDS LIGHT ON RUSSIA AND THE RULE OF LAW - Let's start with Mr. Barr and end with Mr. Rosenstein
Quite frankly, with the recent hurricane of revelations and developments over the past several weeks; replete with a little politics fatigue on my end, I've been in a 'watch and wait' mode while matters presumably come to a head and unfold at quick clip. Staying sharply tuned-in to what I consider the best technical analysis available over at Conservative Tree House (https://theconservativetreehouse.com/); in conjunction with other longstanding sources, it's apparent that the landscape has shifted in its tenor - it looks and feels much different than it did roughly a year ago.
Today, "Russia" has disintegrated into the ashes and shambles we predicted leaving the Left empty-handed and galvanized in a disingenuous, duplicitous and, in some cases, felonious political and dogmatic overarching effort to undermine, attack and unseat a duly elected president. The irony is rich, is it not? The Left and its cries about apoplectic Russian interference in our domestic matters and the divisive effect it is having on the country are not only resting on a fabricated and fraudulent basis that has since been decimated, the effects of it all are very real. The attribution goes not to the Russians; however, but rather directly to the very same miscreants on the Left that concocted this sham, which will go down as the single largest political scandal in the history of the United States. Period. So, yes, the country is a wreck and divided, but you need look no further than the Obama administration, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, et al. Their current level of unprecedented bloviating in the MSM demonstrates their culpability in it all.
Case in point - Attorney General William Barr's steadfast testimony on Capitol Hill. What a despicable, embarrassing bit of American politics as created by the Left. What a state of discomfiture they created and displayed for the entire world to consume. Shameful only begins to describe it and after watching every bit of it, a few observations become glaringly apparent. In a bipartisan push, lawmakers first used the hearing to grandstand for themselves and most notably, Ben Sasse (R) and Amy Klobuchar (D); in a who's who of self-indulgence and salesmanship, each attempted to recruit Mr. Barr to bills they are sponsoring. Slimy. Gross. Expected. It's akin to sixth-grade 'hey everyone, look at me!' type behavior; especially for those with presidential aspirations. Amy?
When the Left was not smearing, debasing, attacking, slandering and assailing the character, integrity and professionalism of Mr. Barr; while also attempting to curry his favor for their bills, they just focused on the former and it was reprehensible. It was pure Kabuki theater as the likes of Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, et al. adhered to scripted, dogmatic, platitudinous speeches sans anything factual or intellectually honest. Moreover, they simply punted on the technical aspects of their objectives - ensuring that the president faces exposure to legal jeopardy - by fundamentally misrepresenting that you can have obstruction of justice without satisfying the most critical element of that crime, which is an underlying crime (actual collusion with Russia, which isn't even a crime to start.)
When not engaged in that fruitless effort, they assailed Mr. Barr because he deferred to his own discretion, superseded statute and decided to make public the entire confidential Mueller report by lightly redacting it in conjunction with Mueller's team and intelligence services some two weeks after Mueller's request for summaries to be released to provide richer context and understanding on the matter. The Left felt it appropriate to parse-out every bit of minutia in the verbal and written exchanges between Mueller and Barr over the former's report despite it being published in its entirety. In summary, the Left demanded the special counsel; demanded that he be allowed to conclude his investigation unimpeded; and demanded that the full report be made public, but when they learned that the findings didn't support their fictitiously scripted basis for it, they became unhinged and moved the goal posts to obstruction charges. In short, they're upset because they received precisely that for which they asked.
Newsflash 1 - if you understand how federal mechanisms work, you also understand that the special counsel was NEVER about Russia. Russia was simply a justification for the existence of the special counsel, which was ALWAYS about the obstruction angle. Newsflash 2 - if you understand that the Obama administration was spying on Trump and others long before "Russia," you understand that the entirety of what we've all been witness to was NEVER about establishing the appropriate predication for Obama's spying efforts but rather, it was ALWAYS about providing an ex post facto basis for the already-existing spying after they were caught (thank you Admiral Rogers as you terminated unauthorized access to NSA data bases and advised Mr. Trump on you own accord.) See CTH (link above.)
So, where does that leave us? Right where I suggested - in a holding pattern and waiting as we sit upon the precipice of anticipating traction in the other direction. Expect it to begin with declassification and OIG matters unfolding first. As we wait, we are also in anticipation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentsein's May 11th departure so let's see what he may have to add to the matter by examining his remarks at the Armenian Bar Association's Public Servants Dinner during an April 25th gathering. Mr. Rosenstein may be departing us with some relevant information in the wake.
Mr. Rosenstein stated (emphasis mine),
There are reminders of heroes, mentors, and friends on every floor. They taught me that our Department stands for the principle that every American deserves the protection of the rule of law.
We use the term “rule of law” to describe our obligation to follow neutral principles. As President Trump pointed out, “we govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] … the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy explained it this way: in a rule of law system, when you apply to a government clerk for a permit and you satisfy the objective criteria, you are not asking for a favor. You are entitled to the permit, and it is the clerk’s duty to give it to you.
The idea that the government works for the people is relatively novel. In some countries, that concept of a government bound by law to serve the people does not exist.It is both timely and meaningful that Mr. Rosenstein took this opportunity, in anticipation of his departure and his enigmatic position in the Russia collusion hoax; especially given that he is both a witness in some matters and a prosecutor all together, that he would deliberately link and discuss President Trump as being entitled to the same objective standards and 'rule of law' to which all Americans are entitled. Timing is everything.
Further, Mr. Rosenstein also stated,
The question explains why I devoted my career to law enforcement: because the rule of law is the foundation of human liberty. The rule of law secures our freedom. It will secure our children’s freedom. And we can only achieve it if people who enforce the law set aside partisanship, because the rule of law requires a fair and independent process; a process where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the government.
I do not care how police officers, prosecutors, and judges vote, just as I do not care how soldiers and sailors vote. That is none of my business. I only care whether they understand that when they are on duty, their job is about law and not politics.
There is not Republican justice and Democrat justice. There is only justice and injustice.Mr. Rosenstein then shifted his comments specifically to the Russia investigation,
The rule of law is our most important principle. Patriots must always defend the rule of law. Even when it is not in their personal interest, it is always in the national interest. If you find yourself asking, “What will this decision mean for me?” then you probably are not complying with your oath of office.
At my confirmation hearing in March 2017, a Republican Senator asked me to make a commitment. He said: “You’re going to be in charge of this [Russia] investigation. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you’ll do it right, that you’ll take it to its conclusion and you’ll report [your results] to the American people.”
I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion. I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.
Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America. The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges. Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.
So that happened.Yes, that did happen, Mr. Rosenstein.
Moreover, by examining Rosenstein's words so as to read between the lines, he places us in a position to reasonably believe that other developments may also come to fruition. Most notably, Rosenstein leaves room for inference by standing so firmly on the 'rule of law' germane to its fundamental underpinnings in our society and it's application to all citizens; Mr. Trump included. Why such an emphasis on the 'rule of law' unless you're establishing a defense for yourself or your setting the stage for developments counter to the preexisting narrative. Perhaps a little of both and given what we know to-date, the latter scenario seems more realistic.
He also reaffirms his handling of the Russia investigation as being appropriate and Mr. Barr has indicated the same publicly. That's important. If we are to have faith in Mr. Barr and by means of his appearance on Capitol Hill, it seems we all should, the same ought to apply to Mr. Rosenstein given Barr's public support for him and the timing of his departure (timing always matters - think Scarmucci model - Rosenstein's job is done and he is being moved-out.)
Rosenstein also leaves open a window for the discussion of his own culpability as he clearly delineates concerning action by the Obama administration at the same time he's drawing a distinction to the fact that some matters were determined prior to his arrival. Again, both of those statements are impactful when viewed through the correct lens. Again, both of those statements speak to either Rosenstein establishing a defense for himself or setting the stage for developments counter to the current narrative. Once again, it's reasonable to think it's the latter.
To close his remarks, Rosenstein draws attention to criminal leaking for the purpose of shaping narrative at the same time he completely glosses over Comey's handling of Mr. Trump; both of which would be indicative of treading lightly perhaps due to ongoing matters such as a grand jury, ongoing investigation or other Department criminal matter.
As acting Attorney General, it was my responsibility to make sure that the Department of Justice would do what the American people pay us to do: conduct an independent investigation; complete it expeditiously; hold perpetrators accountable if warranted; and work with partner agencies to counter foreign agents and deter crimes.
Today, our nation is safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes.
But not everybody was happy with my decision, in case you did not notice.
It is important to keep a sense of humor in Washington. You just need to accept that politicians need to evaluate everything in terms of the immediate political impact.
Then there are the mercenary critics, who get paid to express passionate opinions about any topic, often with little or no information. They do not just express disagreement. They launch ad hominem attacks unrestricted by truth or morality. They make threats, spread fake stories, and even attack your relatives. I saw one of the professional provocateurs at a holiday party. He said, “I’m sorry that I’m making your life miserable.” And I said, “You do your job, and I’ll do mine.”
His job is to entertain and motivate partisans, so he can keep making money. My job is to enforce the law in a non-partisan way; that is the whole point of the oath of office.These last remarks by Rosenstein capture what I believe to be the moment that is upon us - "mercenary critics," whether they be lawmakers, federal agents, current or former federal appointees and reporters, all signaling their last hurrah as the leviathan of the Trump criminal conspiracy completes its U-turn such that the hunters become the hunted. Mr. Rosenstein seems to be suggesting that's precisely where we are. The geopolitical landscape suggests the same.
In our Department, we disregard the mercenary critics and focus on the things that matter. As Goethe said, “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” A republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle. Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it. It quickly fades away. The principles are what abide.
Perhaps in due time, we can write a follow-up item on that notion and proclaim, "So that happened."
Rosenstein's full remarks: https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/deputy-attorney-general-rod-j-rosenstein-delivers-remarks-armenian-bar-association-s)