Wednesday, June 3, 2020

UPDATED: Rosenstein's Day In The Senate

The Rosenstein testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is over. Overall, I found the questioning to be rather unimpressive. Unlike many commenters on blogs and Twitter, I found the hammering away at FISA related issues to be, in the main, fairly pointless. 

The important takeaway can be summarized fairly quickly. While numerous commenters on Twitter (including John Cardillo and Jonathan Turley) picked up on two major and closely related points, John Solomon does so in readable style. Both of what I consider to be the most important points were brought up by Senator Graham. The first major admission had to do with the lack of any basis for the claim of "Russian Collusion" that was the basis for his authorization of the Team Mueller witchhunt:

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein conceded on Wednesday that by August of 2017 there was no evidence that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russians to sabotage the 2016 election, even though the investigation into that allegation would persist for another year and a half.  
The jaw-dropping admission came during a contentious hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is actively investigating the F.B.I.'s Crossfire Hurricane investigation that sought to uncover whether Trump campaign officials had colluded with Russian agents to sabotage the 2016 election. 
Addressing Rosenstein during the hearing, committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham asked him: "The whole concept, that the campaign was colluding with the Russians, there was no 'there' there in August of 2017, do you agree or not?" 
"I agree with the general statement," Rosenstein replied. 

The second major admission by Rosenstein is related to the first and concerned Michael Flynn:

[Rosenstein] also told the committee he was unaware that an F.B.I. field office had recommended that Gen. Michael Flynn be dropped from the investigation. Rosenstein was asked by Graham if he knew that "in January of 2017, the F.B.I. field office said, 'we recommend General Flynn be removed'" from the F.B.I.'s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 
"I did not," Rosenstein responded.

As I've repeatedly emphasized, the Team Mueller witchhunt was, by the terms of Rosenstein's own authorization letter, simply a continuation of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation--but considerably ramped up by the appointment of a Special Counsel.

In his first statement (above) Rosenstein admits that within 3 months of authorizing Team Mueller it was clear that the entire conceptual basis for the investigation--the idea that the Trump campaign had colluded with "the Russians"--was totally discredited. Graham references the famous Strzok text: "there was no 'there' there in August of 2017." And Rosenstein agrees! Stop and think about that for a moment.

Three months is a pretty short time frame for such a major investigation. If the entire conceptual basis for the investigation was thoroughly discredited--no 'there' there--in such a short time, that demands some searching followup questions: What made Rosenstein think there was any factual basis to begin with--just three months previously?

The nub of the authorization of the Special Counsel is this:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump; ...

The authorization of a General Counsel such as this--one which the whole world knew was directed at the POTUS--was an incredibly momentous decision. It authorized the investigation of allegations that an American president had been elected in whole or in part as a result of collusion with a hostile foreign power. By the terms of the regulations covering the appointment of a Special Counsel, the public is entitled to believe appointment of a Special Counsel means that "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted." And yet there is no statement in the authorization letter that would lead anyone to reasonably believe that Rosenstein had conducted a searching review of the evidence that such an investigation was in fact warranted. There is no statement, for example, that Rosenstein had consulted with anyone else, whether in the DoJ or the FBI, or had reviewed any documentation whatsoever.

In the circumstances I would have expected Rosenstein to have been grilled on that topic. If within three months the entire conceptual basis for the investigation had been exposed as without any actual foundation--a fraud--what made him think there was any foundation in the first place? Should he not then have gone back and challenged the people who told him that there was a real foundation to defend that position? And what exactly was the process that he went through in deciding to authorize the Special Counsel investigation, to ensure that he was doing so on the basis of the best possible information? Did he demand to see the opening EC for Crossfire Hurricane--with its laughable excuse for predication? If not, why not? Did he demand that a concise statement of the predication for the investigation be drawn up for his consideration? If not, why not? If he did, who wrote it and where is that document?

Consider. The FBI is able to open their own investigations, although at crucial steps along the way they need DoJ authorization to continue. However, only the Attorney General can authorize a Special Counsel investigation. Given that the FBI is required to state the predication for its investigations, why would the Attorney General not state the predication for a Special Counsel investigation? It defies reason that there should be no such concise statement of what was known at the very point of authorization. By the time Team Mueller had been set up, Crossfire Hurricane had been ongoing for nine months. Why would Rosenstein not ask for a written statement of progress on the investigation--on what basis it had been started and what, if anything had been learned? In long running FBI investigations that is a required practice. When renewal FISA applications are prepared, the same procedure is followed. How could it possibly be that no such document was prepared for Rosenstein's consideration before authorizing a Special Counsel?

The failure to take such basic steps points beyond incompetence to actual conspiracy to abuse official authorities.

Considerations pertaining to the second admission--that Rosenstein was unaware that SSA Pientka had intended to close the Flynn investigation as early as January 4, 2017--follow the same pattern. Why would Rosenstein not have demanded to view the supposed predication for each of the named subjects of the Team Mueller witchhunt? Never mind the closing EC in the Flynn case, that didn't actually go out--what about the opening EC? On what basis did Rosenstein make the decision to continue the investigation of Flynn, months after the Logan Act pretext had been laughed at? This isn't rocket science. Why did Rosenstein not demand a concise statement of the predication regarding Flynn, which the FBI always prepares for each of its investigations? It was there for the asking (Opening And Closing The Flynn Case), and Rosenstein was the one guy making this decision that depended totally on the actual existence of predication. Did he really open a Special Counsel investigation, sign off on the predication, notify the United States Senate that a criminal investigation was warranted--without checking the basis for such an investigation? Again, that defies all reason and points beyond incompetence. Even if Rosenstein were truly that mind numbingly stupid, surely some subordinate would have pointed out these issues to him. We know he consulted with other officials on related matters, so there has to be more here.

The bottom line for me is this. If Rosenstein is let off the hook without at least being named as an unindicted co-conspirator, then there better be some really major indictments in which Rosenstein is the witness.

UPDATE: I imagine there will be more updates, but Paul Mirengoff sums up well. After calling Rosenstein a "snake," which does seem to be a pretty fair characterization, he concludes:

... the Democrats say there’s nothing to see here. 
There’s plenty to see. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee isn’t the best vehicle for dealing with it. 
John Durham is.

The Senate simply isn't a prosecutive body. It's more suited to broad brush style investigations, and in that sense they made some progress--if anyone was actually listening.


  1. Again, Occam's Razor.

    All of the above makes perfect sense if you begin with a "theory of the crime" in which all of it was, and is, a real-life attempted coup involving a large number of powerful individuals (conspiracy). And certainly, you don't try to pull this off unless you think your odds are pretty good.

    What would improve your odds substantially? Well, it probably helps a great deal if you can get the incoming AG to agree in advance to recusal, and then get the Acting AG onboard, and of course it's crucial to the have the FBI Director and his top staff in the loop, and then there is a huge support team of Fifth Column holdovers from the prior Administration, and it is a foregone conclusion that all of the top Democrats in Congress will be cheerleading (if not outright participating); but most important of all, you will also likely need a lot of the top Republican power-players to agree to stand aside (or in some cases, covertly provide support, hello John McCain).

    This was a non trivial cabal of second-rate politicians and bureaucrats that formed the criminal conspiracy. Many are now walking a knife edge of faux contrition/indignation and continuing coverup.

    1. I think that's absolutely true. This couldn't have been just a handful in the USIC. Not even just with WH support.

    2. This is why the conspirators were so desperate to get Flynn fired. Flynn knew everyone who had skeletons in their closets, and would have exposed all of those who have been participating in the coup attempt; and he would have exposed them. He will soon have that opportunity again.

  2. "The failure to take such basic steps points beyond incompetence to actual conspiracy to abuse official authorities."

    When the notable absence of what should be present is more significant than what is.

    1. Totally. When we had long running cases, we had to do yearly summaries. But more frequent if there were developments that led to a higher level of investigation. The move to a Special Counsel would seem to cry out loudly for such a summary justification of what was being done.

  3. Gross negligence as Senator Cruz suggests. RR's a dumbass with the FBI and Special Counsel's wool pulled over his eyes. He was made from the get go.

  4. Interesting how little new information came out of the hearing.


    Lindsay Graham has a primary, so had to appear to be doing something.

    Democrats - expose as little new information as possible, and get this out of the news cycle.

    GOP - focused on FISA abuse, and let Durham deal with the rest, with as little damage to the Senate’s reputation as possible.

    Rosenstein - Show it was FBI’s fault for holding back information.

    End result is Rosenstein showed he was a snake, over his head, and the hearing was basically a photo op for all parties involved.

  5. Let me see if I have this right. If I believe RR, he was incompetent or stupid, maybe both, IOW, a typical government employee. Or he was evil, which, of course, he won't admit to. I suspect it's the latter.

    When you admit you're stupid, in front of a crowd, you have something bigger to hide. In either case, Mr. RR is going to walk into a sweet, heavenly-scented defined benefit retirement, supplied by us worker bees.

    Warren Beatty, as Clyde Barrow, said, "Ain't life grand." It is indeed.

    1. And I'm sure he doesn't think he's stupid at all. Far from it.

    2. Tonite on Hannity was shown Cruz saying (to RR) his presumption, that RR *wasn't* complicit.
      Minutes later, Hannity slobbered all over Lindsey, daring not to go near to pressing him on this issue.
      With Hannity so laying in such tall grass, I must fear that some sort of fix is in.

  6. While I rarely agree with what Mirengoff posts, he nailed this one. Compare this post to some of his previous posts on the subject... Some might call it a "Come to Jesus" moment.


    1. It seemed to me to be stronger than usual, perhaps indicating a shift in his view.

    2. I agree. Good job by Mirengoff. I do have a question, however.

      Mirengoff mentions 'Russian disinformation' four times as the basis for the FBI investigations. Many other intelligent and articulate observers do the same. Including many who are as offended by FBI and DOJ wrongdoing as I am.

      But please.

      Where is the Russian disinformation? Which Russians, precisely please, supplied any information or disinformation to any investigator either official or unofficial?

      As far as I can tell none of the information in the Steele dossier came from any Russian government official or even any Russian. Didn't it all come from the fertile imaginations of Glenn Simpson or Christopher Steele or Nellie Ohr or Stefan Halper or Cody Shearer or Sidney Blumenthal?

      What is the Russian disinformation? Is fake information about Russia or Russians that is invented by a Brit or an American 'Russian disinformation'?

      It seems to me that every explanation of what the conspirators were doing that invokes any Russian action whatsoever lets the conspirators off the hook an inch or two. They are not entitled to any slack whatsoever.They did this all by themselves.

    3. The good news seems to be that Durham is very much focused on the ICA.

  7. Even Andy McCarthy said from day 1 the special counsel appointment was invalid because it never cited the crime to be investigated (predication), and that on day 1 of the SCO it was similarly evident that there was no collusion. And in those early days, as until recently, he was bending over backwards to give FBI/DOJ the benefit of doubt as to their motives and intentions.

    And as I've said until blue in the face, the agenda, starting with FusionGPS, was to get the CIA/FBI/DOJ investigatory ball rolling and use the media to report all the leaks so as to make Trump's election impossible. It didn't work, and they didn't give up. So they keep inventing things to investigate because they refuse to accept his election.

    It taken Bill Barr as AG for Trump to take control of his administration. And still...

    1. And still he's just now getting some control--some, not total--over the IC.

    2. @Forbes

      Bear with me. Lets give Jeff Sessions the benefit of the doubt (to which he is probably not entitled) and submit that he is a 'nice guy'.

      But for him to suggest that he served Trump well is ridiculous.

      Because, as you say: "It has taken Bill Barr as AG for Trump to take control of his administration. And still..."

      Sessions did nothing.

    3. Cassander...Yup. Unknowing the events to unfold, Sessions was the wrong man for the job. Trump rewarded loyalty to a supporter who would help on the border wall and immigration, and as a bridge to Congressional Republicans who didn't know Trump.

      It turned out Trump needed a viper to go after the Deep State and Dems. Sessions was not that guy.

    4. @Forbes, Cassander,

      On that front, I see that Kayleigh Mcenany, a halfwit masquerading as press secretary, blamed AG Barr for ordering the space cleared for Trump at Lafayette Park. She thinks this is defending her chief, throwing the AG under the bus. I don't have the heart to tell her. Bad Day at Black Rock.

    5. Another irony.

      In so many cases Trump either rewarded loyalty...or reposed those who ultimately betrayed him.

      I was saddened to read General Mattis's denunciation of Trump today.

    6. I don't understand the wording, "accessed," but ...

    7. Others didn’t understand “accessed” either. It was my understanding from something I read a while back that both Mattis and McMaster came via recommendations from Condi Rice.

      Who is Rich Higgins? I didn’t know, so I looked him up. Here is a rundown from the Atlantic, always suspect, but here it is:

      On Twitter, he appears to be pretty nasty with anyone who disagrees with him… short fuse. He was fired from the NSC by McMaster. Bannon’s name mentioned. Lots of court intrigue along with everything else our President was having to deal with.

  8. When are we going to stop lying to each other?

    How can you get to the bottom of anything which is broken and start fixing it without getting to the truth?

    How can we get to the truth if we keep lying about the facts?

    Lindsey Graham says he's trying to get to the bottom of what happened so that it doesn't happen again. Sounds valid. Even noble. So he calls some hearings to get to the bottom of all this.

    The first witness knows a lot about what happened.

    He comes to testify and he testifies that he knows nothing. He accepted what they told him. He didn't doubt anybody's honesty. He didn't see any bias. He read most of some documents which he signed. He was busy doing other things. Sure, he was accountable. That's why he came to testify. But he did nothing 'wrong'. There was evidence of Russian interference so an investigation was certainly justified.

    But did he observe any inkling of evidence of a government-sponsored coup attempt fomented at the highest levels to destroy the presidency of the duly-elected successor? That was unfolding right before his very eyes?

    That he was an active participant in?



    Rod Rosenstein is now a partner in the law firm of King & Spalding which earlier this year reported average profit per equity partner of $3 million per year. How do you think his partners would feel about him admitting that he participated in a conspiracy to overthrow our duly-elected government?


    1. Actually they would/did probably cheer him on. I'm sure that if he had consulted with them, maybe he occasionally bragged about making Flynn or Stone squirm over dinner, they would have considered the odds of success very good and expected to hold, or possibly advance, their position with the DS Dinner crowd when the new regime took over.

      Cloud People law firms don't let people just walk in off the street and become partners. Rosenstein was a known quantity to them for a long time no doubt.
      Tom S.

    2. "How can you get to the bottom of anything which is broken and start fixing it without getting to the truth? How can we get to the truth if we keep lying about the facts?"

      I realize that's rhetorical, but when people have been indoctrinated for decades that objective truth is really whatever they prefer it to be, society, civilization itself, is in very serious jeopardy. The answer, of course, is that it's metaphysically impossible.

  9. Good points, Cassander. He had a lot of items on his to do list. A FISA that involved associates of the President was just one of many important duties. (sarcasm)

  10. What counts is not what you *expect*, it's what you *inspect*, but that comes, only if you have a media which cares to perform more than (at most) cursory inspection, of one Party's orgies of deceit/ criminality.
    If DJT can't break the MSM oligopolies, it'll be time for Heartland America to secede from the rest of the country.

  11. Rosenstein's overall defense is that he's incompetent.

  12. "New York Times now says editor didn’t read Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed before publishing it..."

    Just saw this headline over at Twitchy. The Rosenstein defense!

    Don't they understand we can see how cliché this is? Can't they at least pretend to some imagination in their lies and dissimilation?
    Tom S.

  13. Actually rather that the Rosenstein defense I should have written "Art imitates life" since the NYT hasn't been a serious purveyor of news in at least 20 years.
    Tom S.