Thomas Gallatin / Sep. 24, 2018

NYT Sets up Rosenstein as Trump ‘Obstruction’ Bait Trap

The deputy AG “joked” about wiretapping Trump so as to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s days may be numbered. On Friday, The New York Times reported that in the spring of 2017, Rosenstein “suggested … that he secretly record President Trump” and even floated the idea of “recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.” The Times claims Rosenstein was motivated to do this soon after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, because Trump cited Rosenstein’s memo that was critical of Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as justification. Rosenstein was, the Times says, “caught off guard” and “he began telling people that he feared” Trump had used him.

The Times article noted that no actions were ever taken to follow through on Rosenstein’s suggestions. Rosenstein, not surprisingly, has denied the story, calling it “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” adding, “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

Interestingly, The Washington Post and NBC News countered the Times story, reporting that Rosenstein’s statements were made in jest. However, infamous former FBI lawyer Lisa Page saw it otherwise, indicating in a memo on the meeting that she took Rosenstein’s secret taping comment seriously. (Can we take Page seriously, though?) And National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who has closely followed the entire Trump/Russia collusion saga from the beginning, called Rosenstein’s denial of the Times story a “non-denial denial,” while also noting how Rosenstein has flip-flopped in his attempts to appease the Washington establishment.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) responded, “It’s not a very funny joke.” He later added, “One thing that’s clear whether you’re a Republican or Democrat president, you have a right to a deputy attorney general that doesn’t think you’re incompetent and doesn’t feel the need to audio tape conversations with you.”

Trump has repeatedly expressed his frustration with Rosenstein (and even more so with Rosenstein’s boss, AG Jeff Sessions), specifically regarding his appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. This latest story now seemingly gives Trump justification to win greater Republican support should he decide to fire Rosenstein. However, the firing of Rosenstein seems to be exactly what Democrats are begging for, which may be the motive for the Times to publish this story. Democrats and their Leftmedia allies are baiting Trump to act before the midterm elections, which Democrats will use as evidence to support their long-running charge of Trump’s supposed obstruction. It would behoove Trump to wait until after the midterms before pulling the cord on Rosenstein. But reports this morning indicate that Rosenstein anticipates Trump will fire him today. Stay tuned.

Update: As of Monday afternoon, Rosenstein will reportedly remain in the job. At least until he meets with Trump on Thursday…

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