Comey's Out. Who's Next for Rosenstein?
If I were Hillary Clinton, I'd be afraid. I'd be very afraid.
Something has happened that has drastically changed her position in the world and that is the advent of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, a name not well known by many until now, although he has had quite an illustrious career at the Department of Justice and elsewhere.
Confirmed only April 25, 2017, Rosenstein wrote the well-crafted "Memorandum to the Attorney General" on the subject of "Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI." The contents of this memorandum are what many are assuming impelled Donald Trump to take an action he was hesitant to do, but probably should have done, on taking office -- firing FBI director James Comey before the reputation of the FBI was even more tarnished than it was.
Of course the left exploded, claiming a cover-up of the endless Russia investigation. But no matter when Donald Trump had fired Comey, day one or day one hundred and one, it would have created a conflagration. Chuck Schumer would have yelled and screamed and waved his bloody shoe even though he himself had previously called for the same thing only months before. That's what Schumers do, as does much of the rest of the not-so-loyal opposition.
Interestingly, a great deal of the minority leader's immediate fulminations after the defenestration of Comey centered not on Trump but on Rosenstein, who is apparently that most terrifying of all things -- a by-the-book straight shooter who espouses equal justice for all under the law. Schumer demanded the deputy AG immediately appoint a special investigator to get to the bottom of the supposed Russia allegations. Rosenstein may just make such an appointment, but for another purpose not as salutary to Schumer. From the deputy AG's memorandum:
The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016 and announce his conclusion that the [Clinton email] case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his views on the nation's most sensitive criminal investigation [bold mine], without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.
Rosenstein goes on to quote numerous statements from attorneys general and deputy attorneys general of both parties concurring with his view, but this is a memorandum all should read in its entirety for themselves. Besides being an impressive brief for the firing of James Comey, it also appears to open the door for something else, for that "well-established process for other officials to step in" to lead to something yet more dramatic -- the renewed investigation of Hillary Clinton.
The original investigation, under Comey, was replete with destroyed evidence, circumscribed interrogations (in Clinton's case not under oath), and more unsolved mysteries than pills in an aspirin jar. It also opens the door for a new FBI director to be more forthcoming about who in the Obama administration was doing all the unmasking of American citizens, information that critics claim Comey has "slow-walked." (If true, it will be interesting to find out why.)
No wonder Schumer was so upset. There's a big difference between investigating Trump's alleged collusion with the Russians and Clinton's use of an unapproved private server for the entire emails, many top secret, of the secretary of state and then her erasure of tens of thousands of them. As anyone with a brain knows she's guilty. So far, Trump's not -- and considering how long this has gone on without a smidgen of evidence, that's highly unlikely to change.
Yes, I know both Trump and Sessions had pledged not to pursue the "Clinton matter" and let bygones be bygones. But that was before the onslaught, the so-called "Resistance" that has made governing so impossible for the administration. It's been non-stop ugliness since the inauguration and even before. Graciousness was not, in the slightest, rewarded. Indeed Clinton herself has now declared herself part of the "Resistance" (has she brushed up on her French?) -- talk about opening the door. As someone once said, "Punch back twice as hard."
But it was impossible to punch back with an understaffed and politically compromised Justice Department and an FBI director who was at once all-powerful and bizarrely mercurial. Tucker Carlson reported Tuesday night that guests on his show often told him how much they "feared" Comey -- but only during the commercial. Well, they have less to be afraid of now.
It's Hillary who has a lot to worry about. The renewed Justice Department with Rosenstein holds the cards and this time the punch should have real force, possibly even fatal. Start by empaneling a grand jury. Maybe add a soupçon of Benghazi testimony. The sky's the limit when you've got justice on your side.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already. You can find him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.