Here we go again. Another Trump administration official bites the dust. This time it was deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein who had supposedly submitted his resignation to White House chief of staff John Kelly, who reportedly is on the same glide path and views Trump, according to Bob Woodward’s new book Fear, as a ‘professional liar.’ Except that Rosenstein hadn’t. Or he did, but it wasn’t accepted by Kelly. Or something like that. As compensation, Rosenstein, we were told, got to attend an NSC principals committee meeting this afternoon.
So it goes in Crazytown where, as the Atlantic’s Steve Clemons points out, things keep getting crazier. Even as Donald Trump is consorting with world leaders at the United Nations, where he plans to bluster about American sovereignty and how ‘I’m not the president of the globe,’ (who would want him in that capacity anyway?) his administration is in its usual state of chaos, which may be the only predictable thing about it. The Brett Kavanaugh hearing, which was supposed to bolster Republican electoral fortunes in the midterms, has become a prolonged seminar about high school and college debauchery. It’s not even clear if Christine Blasey Ford will have to testify on Thursday at the rate Kavanaugh is being pummelled by allegations of sexual misconduct. Republicans schemed last week to try and push his nomination through before the Mt Vesuvius of accusations began to spew but failed. Their tenacity is impressive. But the Montgomery County Sentinel reports that local investigators are looking into a fresh accusation against Kavanaugh, which would bring to four the number of accusers against him (though Montgomery police officials say they aren’t on the case). The surprising thing isn’t that his nomination is going down in flames, but that it has lasted this long.
The same might be said of Rosenstein’s tenure at the Justice Department. Unlike Kavanaugh, he has become a hero on the left for defying Trump about the Mueller investigation. He became the bête noire of House Republicans and Trump’s inner circle is clearly thirsting to oust him. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow declared this morning that ‘if in fact Rod Rosenstein does end up resigning today,’ then ‘a time out on this inquiry’ is warranted.
This much seems clear: the revelation that he apparently contemplated invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump and secretly taping him surely spells the terminus of his duties at the Justice Department, at the latest after the November elections. But then again, nothing is ever that clear in the Trump administration. Maybe a big Democratic victory in November will grant him another reprieve as Trump confronts the daunting prospect of trying to win Senate confirmation for his candidates.
By then, however Rosenstein may want to cash out. There’s no reason former FBI director James Comey and others should have all the fun. Rosenstein must be pining to escape his torment. A lucrative book deal, talking head on MSNBC, cushy partnership at a prominent DC law firm — what sensible fellow wouldn’t trade the headaches of working for Trump for these rewards?
Presumably, Trump will retreat to his bedroom tonight — what Woodward called ‘the devil’s workshop’— to concoct some more sulfuric allegations about his political foes. For now, though, he seems to have decided to spare the Rod.