Since before his presidency even began, accusations around the alleged collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian government operatives have haunted Trump. Soon after he took office, his suspicious efforts to interfere with the investigation around it, efforts that may constitute obstruction of justice, began in earnest.
After the disaster that resulted from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, a firing that prompted the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the probe, it should seem obvious that firing other top names in the investigation would be devastating to Trump’s presidency. Details leaked to CNN show, however, that plans are already in the works to justify more firings.
‘The White House is preparing talking points designed to undermine Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s credibility, according to sources familiar with the plan.
‘The plan calls on President Donald Trump’s allies to cast Rosenstein as too conflicted to fairly oversee the Russia investigation.’
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 12, 2018
Following the raid on Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, the president’s anger has escalated and his hands are, in some ways, tied. Firing Mueller could result in turning even many of his own allies against him. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tweeted a warning about the potential consequences such a decision would bring.
‘Anyone advising the President — in public or over the airwaves — to fire Bob Mueller does not have the President or the nation’s best interest at heart. Full stop.’
Anyone advising the President — in public or over the airwaves— to fire Bob Mueller does not have the President or the nation’s best interest at heart.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) April 12, 2018
Trump cannot directly fire the special counsel; in fact, only Attorney General Jeff Sessions could if he weren’t recused from all decisions around the investigation. Since Sessions is recused, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversees Mueller’s work, and so far he is not as deferential to the president as Trump would like.
‘A White House official said the President has been particularly galled by a recently disclosed memo Rosenstein wrote in August authorizing Mueller to investigate allegations that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “colluding with Russian government officials” to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
‘The President and some of his aides were upset Rosenstein didn’t give the White House a heads up about the additional memo, according to a person familiar with the matter. As officials seek to learn what was included in the memo’s redactions, they are building a case against Rosenstein that he should have recused himself from the probe in the first place.’
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) April 12, 2018
To be clear, Trump is angry that Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation despite the fact that he repeatedly lied under oath about his own meetings with Russian government operatives during the transition period after the campaign, but he has an objection to the man in charge of overseeing the investigation into collusion asking to have credible allegations of collusion investigated.
White House signed off on Comey plan last night, which the RNC is overseeing. The well-orchestrated strategy, of course, could be upended by a Trump Tweet reacting to Comey's media blitz. Our full story: https://t.co/T5v6hWygKT
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) April 12, 2018
The talking points are also reported to include an objection to Rosenstein’s “conflicts” in the case since he was a first-hand witness to the firing of James Comey, which brought Trump’s possible obstruction of justice into the investigation. Rosenstein wrote the memo justifying Comey’s firing, which makes him a witness, but it is odd that Trump doesn’t want him in charge of the investigation if he knows that that firing was justified and unrelated to the Russia probe.
#BREAKING: WHITE HOUSE IS PREPARING TALKING POINTS TO DISCREDIT DEPUTY AG ROD ROSENSTEIN.
— Cyrus Toulabi (@CyrusToulabi) April 12, 2018