Trump declares war on the Department of Justice

I’m not quite sure what to make of this report in the New York Times because I have never seen the Justice Department issue a statement such as this before. Don’t Believe Anonymously Sourced Reports, Justice Official Says (this woud put political publications like POLITICO out of business):

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, encouraged Americans in a statement issued late Thursday to be “skeptical about anonymous allegations” after a string of recent news reports about the evolving focus of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible collusion with President Trump’s associates.

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” Mr. Rosenstein said in the statement.

He added: “Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”

He did not cite specific reports. The Justice Department released Mr. Rosenstein’s statement after 9 p.m., a few hours after The Washington Post reported that the special counsel was investigating the business dealings of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. That report was attributed to unnamed American officials.

Asked about the impetus for the statement, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Rosenstein did not respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday night.

This statement appears directed at reporters covering this scandal. The Times and the Post are not going to disclose their confidential sources, but if reporters are talking to FBI agents or Treasury Department officials in FinCEN about money laundering investigations overseas, or to intelligence officers or their foreign intelligence counterparts in Europe, I would take this as a veiled threat that the FBI may be monitoring reporters communications with their sources overseas. If that is what Rosenstein meant to imply, that is a big effin’ deal.

There was some speculation last night that Rosenstein may have issued this statement at the direction of the White House because his “statement aligned with the president’s open frustration with unflattering leaks. Mr. Trump has called stories about the investigation “fake news” and complained on Twitter about a Washington Post report on Wednesday night that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was investigating the president himself for possible obstruction of justice. That story was also attributed to unnamed sources, as was a New York Times article that same evening about Mr. Mueller’s request for interviews with three top intelligence officials.”

But then this morning, our Twitter-troll-in-chief turned on Rosenstein while confirming that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice. Trump Acknowledges He Is Under Investigation in Russia Inquiry:

President Trump acknowledged publicly for the first time on Friday that he was under investigation in the expanding inquiry into Russian influence in the election, and he appeared to attack the integrity of the Justice Department official in charge of leading it.

In an early-morning tweet, the president declared that he was “being investigated” for his decision to fire James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director. And he seemed to accuse Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, of leading a “witch hunt.”

The tweet was the first explicit concession by the president that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel for the Russia inquiry, had begun examining whether Mr. Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey last month was an attempt to obstruct the investigation.

And Mr. Trump’s apparent reference to Mr. Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from it, came just hours after an oddly worded statement from Mr. Rosenstein complaining about leaks in the case.

* * *

The highly unusual statement by the deputy attorney general raised the question of whether Mr. Trump or some other White House official had asked him to publicly discredit the reports. Part of the revelations surrounding the Russia investigation and the firing of Mr. Comey has been that Mr. Trump repeatedly pushed top intelligence officials to say in public that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation and that there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia in its interference in the 2016 election.

But there was some evidence that Mr. Rosenstein’s motivation may instead have been his own mounting frustration at seeing details of the law enforcement investigation appear nearly daily in the news media.

A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters [oh, so it’s OK for Justice to anonymously leak?], said that no one had asked Mr. Rosenstein to make the statement and that he acted on his own.

Still, the statement, followed by Mr. Trump’s tweet, demonstrated the pressure on the deputy attorney general.

Well, if Rosenstein can’t handle the pressure, he has an easy out: “Mr. Mueller’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice, including by firing Mr. Comey, has raised the question of whether Mr. Rosenstein, as a witness to and participant in the events in 2017 that culminated in that ouster, may have to also recuse himself.”

If Mr. Rosenstein recuses himself from overseeing the special counsel investigation or were to resign or be fired by Mr. Trump — acting attorney general duties for the inquiry would fall to the department’s No. 3 official, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Ms. Brand has never served as a prosecutor. She advised the Bush Justice Department on selecting judicial nominees, and she served as a Republican appointee on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

“As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a point when he needs to recuse, he will,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. “However, nothing has changed.”

* * *

In testimony on Tuesday, Mr. Rosenstein said that he had seen no reason to remove Mr. Mueller, whom he appointed last month, and vowed to “defend the integrity” of the special counsel investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein assured lawmakers that he would not fire Mr. Mueller without “good cause” and that he would not allow political interference in the inquiry, which he promised would remain independent.

“I’m not going to follow any order unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders,” Mr. Rosenstein said Wednesday, responding to comments from a longtime friend of Mr. Trump that the president was considering firing Mr. Mueller. “Special counsel Mueller may be fired only for good cause, and I am required to put that cause in writing. That’s what I would do. If there were good cause, I would consider it.”

Well Ron, you wrote the memo that served as mere pretext for the real reason FBI Director James Comey was fired, while participating in his firing. Then you issued this press release that reads as if it came from the White House. So why should I believe that you will not assert a pretextual “good cause” reason to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller when Trump demands that you do it?

You took an oath to defend the Constitution and to uphold the laws of the United States, not to protect some moral reprobate who demonstrates no concern for either while attacking American institutions like the Department of Justice.

29 Responses to Trump declares war on the Department of Justice

  1. republicans are evil. I won’t waste your time with phony crocodile tears like most liberals think they have to show. I remember how many conservatives reacted to gabby giffords shooting. when president kennady was shot I heard this. “this is one his old man can’t fix!” same crap I heard when dr. king was shot and killed.

    • John Huppenthal

      There was a statewide meeting of Republican precinct committeemen on the morning that Gabby Giffords was shot. They immediately began praying for her.

      • Well that’s awfully nice that those Republican precinct committeemen prayed for her. Aside from that meaningless gesture what did they do to help prevent such tragedies in the future?

        • “Aside from that meaningless gesture what did they do to help prevent such tragedies in the future?”

          And what would you have them do, Wileybud?

          • Limits on magazine size would be a good start. Restricting access to semi-automatic and automatic weapons would be another. Reducing the NRA’s influence would be a huge step but too many politicians are too afraid of/beholden to the NRA for that to happen.

            Aside from praying, what would you suggest to reduce gun violence?

          • I thought that was what you talking about, but since you didn’t specify it, I thought it would be best to ask and make certain. You are mimicking the same old bromides of the anti-gun nuts that are perpetually trotted out again and again despite having been shown to ineffective. The states that have instituted those “improvements” have not seen any improvements in either their crime rates or in the ability of criminals to obtain whatever weapons they want, except automatic weapons, which are VERY difficult for them to obtain. I noticed you slipped automatic weapons in among you list of weapons that need more control as if you can buy them at any gun store without restriction.

            Let me clear that up right now: Automatic weapons (i.e. machine guns) are very tightly controlled by the Firearms Act of 1933, as amended over the years. It is true that any law abiding citizen can buy them, if the State and Local Laws allow it, provided they can pass an exhaustive, in depth FBI background check that takes approximately 6 months to complete. The process to obtain clearance to buy an automatic weapon is this:
            First, you will pay thousands of dollars for the weapon itself. Automatic weapons are VERY expensive, assuming you can find one for sale because there are not that many that are legally for sale.
            Second, you must pay a $200 Transfer Fee that you pay up front whether you are able to purchase the weapon or not.
            Third, you must get the clearance to purchase it from the top law enforcement officer in your local area. Here in Maricopa County, that is the County Sheriff. Usually, there is an additional fee of $40 to $200 for that clearance. If it is denied, you can’t go any further.
            Fourth, you take the approved application to a BATF Licensed Class 3 Gun Dealer for them to submit the application the BATF. This usually has a $100 to $200 fee for doing so.
            Fifth, you then wait around 6 months for the FBI to conduct an in depth background check.
            If, after all that, you get approval to buy the weapon, then you can purchase the weapon.

            From that point on you are subject to random, unannounced inspections by the BATF or the FBI to make certain you still have the weapon in hand and it is secure in your care and custody. No one else can even use the weapon unless you are in the immediate vicinity watching what is happening with it. It is hard to imagine it being any more controlled, yet you imply they are not controlled. Whether through ignorance or deliberate slyness, it demonstrates a poor grasp of the facts or a poor grasp of the truth.

            Last thing: Machine guns have been used in less than 1% of crimes in America. In nearly all cases, those machine guns were legal weapons converted to full auto illegally. That is automatically a 20 year mandatory prison sentence. There is not a lot of incentive for criminals to use machine guns.

    • “I won’t waste your time with phony crocodile tears like most liberals think they have to show.”

      That is a very interesting insight into who you are, Captain.Politics really does mean more to you than the deaths of human beings. Not very pretty, Captain. I give you a “A” for honesty and “F” for humanity.

      Where do you find these “conservatives” who said vile things about Gabby Giffords, John Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King? There probably were some people who said things like that, but I never encountered them. I only clearly remember Gabby Giffords shooting and all I heard from anyone was sorrow and anger that she had been shot. Where do you find such nasty people to talk about?

      • I try to be honest and usually get called a troll. I am mostly around the masses who elitists look down on. the deplorables, ignorant southern white trash. I am non-ignorant southern white trash. some time ago I was wearing my mangey old jacket to an event and an elitist came up to me and asked me why I was wearing it in elitist company. I said “who is their in arizona for me to empress?

        • “I…usually get called a troll.”

          There is nothing wrong with that. It is a term usually used when people get frustrated that they can’t shut you up and they don’t like what you are saying. I don’t give it a second thought because it usually means I am making my point effectively.

          “I am non-ignorant southern white trash.”

          LOL! Is that an accolade you bestowed on yourself? Personally, some of the most willfully ignorant people I have ever met were in the Northeast and along the Pacific Coast, particularly in California. They are usually well educated but dumb as a fence post.

          • non-ignorant southern white trash and damn proud of it! (I am a an okie) I am part native american (though I prefer the term war hoop for my self as that is how I feel) cause I don’t care.

          • Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! And you have a darned good sense of humor, too! My Daughter is also an Okie, born at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It is a good place to come from, me thinks.

      • Steve, I asked what you would suggest to reduce gun violence. Instead of answering the question you went into a pooh poohing of sensible solutions and a history of machine gun legality. Well played sir!

        • “I asked what you would suggest to reduce gun violence.”

          Yes, I forgot about that! Thanks for reminding me. The truth is that I don’t think there is anything you can do about gun violence. Countries that have banned guns entirely still have gun violence. Something that has been demonstrated repeatedly to curtail gun violence is making it easier for law abiding citiczens to have guns. The “common sense suggestions” you offered up have pretty much failed everywhere they are tried. They may make you feel good and warm and fuzzy, but that is about all they accomplish. As I said before, the States that have tried them have seen no measurable changes in gun violence. Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation and their gun crime rate is one of the worst in the nation. The gun control measures you want don’t work.

          Before you laugh at that, ask yourself this: What would have happened on that Republican baseball field had there not been two armed Police Officers on hand to shoot back at this nut case? A lot more people would have died, that’s what. Well, those Police Officers were there by pure happenstance. Congressional leadership has Police Officers assigned to them and it just happened that one of the Congressional leaders was at the practice. Otherwise, no one would have had a chance to shoot back. Situations where an armed citizen stops a crime or saves someone from violence happen all the time (an estimated 2,000,000 times a year) but it rarely gets mentioned in the news.

          You also asked me about the influence of the NRA. I think it is wonderful that we have a citizens organization that is capable of marshaling resources to protect our rights against those who feel only by stripping others of their rights can they feel secure. Benjamin Franklin phrased it best when he said “Those who trade rights for security soon have neither”. I would add, nor do they deserve it. You, too, should be happy someone fights for your rights because, if the 2nd Amendment goes down, what is to stop the other Amendments from going down also? There is already a serious movement to eliminate free speech that is gaining ground. What would be next?

          You really should think about things before you jump on a bandwagon because it feels good. Once a Right is gone, it’s gone forever.

  2. Senator John Kavanagh

    Strange that an assassination attempt against a group of Republican congress members and staff isn’t worthy of a mention on BfA.

    • Strange that the Republicans didn’t consider the shooting of a member of Congress as an “attack on all of us” until it happened to them.

      • “Strange that the Republicans didn’t consider the shooting of a member of Congress as an “attack on all of us” until it happened to them.”

        You have a short memory, Wileybud. When Gabby Giffords was shot, there were similar comments made by Republicans at all levels and in both houses. It is de riguer for Congressional members to pool their sentiments when a member of the club is hurt in almost any fashion. They really do recognize that an attack on one might potentially encourage attacks on all of them.

        • No short memory at all Steve.

          True, she was given a well deserved standing ovation when she returned to Congress. Perhaps you could provide a link to the “attack on all of us” sentiment at the time of Gabby Giffords shooting?

          • ” Perhaps you could provide a link to the “attack on all of us” sentiment at the time of Gabby Giffords shooting?”

            Alas, I do not know how to post attachments here. And when I have tried my messages have usually been deleted. However, if you are really honest with yourself, you can find them. If you aren’t honest with yourself, then why would I care to try and provide you something you won’t try and find yourself?

          • Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan issued the following statement regarding the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona:

            “I am deeply saddened by today’s tragic shooting of my colleague Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and residents in Tucson, Arizona. My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords and her family, along with those impacted by this senseless act of violence.”

            http://www.wxow.com/story/13809959/statement-from-paul-ryan-on-tragedy-in-tucson-arizona

          • However, John Boehner was Speaker at the time and he did say “an attack on one is an attack on all of us”. He goes on to talk about the risk of public service, etc… This speech obviously didn’t have much impact.

          • So, it was just rhetoric. Trying to say the right thing, etc… They never intended to do anything about it and they still don’t. Oh, maybe they’ll beef up security – for themselves.

    • John, really? I thought you were better than that.

      We’re not a full coverage news service. We’re a group of amateur writers, unpaid, who write about topics of interest, where we think we have something to add to the conversation. I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I just haven’t had any thoughts on the shooting that I think warrant mention. It’s not that the topic is unworthy, it’s that my thoughts on it are. See the difference?

      • Senator John Kavanagh

        I thought you were better than that.

      • Sen. John Kavanagh

        Upon reflection, your description, alibi (just kidding), of yourself and most BfA bloggers can reasonably explain the lack of commentary. However, that would not apply to AzBM, who is a prolific and eclectic blogger and also one who engages in frequent negative attacks, insults and name calling – the kind of behavior that some (usually liberals and not me) believe creates the climate where such attacks can more readily occur. (Note: I am NOT suggesting a causal relationship nor censorship.)

        • Hey, as I indicated in my previous comment, I was speaking only for myself. I have no intention of trying to get inside AzBM’s head. If you want go there, you’re a braver man than I.

      • John Huppenthal

        You are not being honest either with Senator Kavanagh or with yourself.

        You have waxed poetic about John Brown’s 1859 violent killings asking whether people are willing to step up to the table today as he was back then.

        By your construct, James Hodgkinson, is today’s John Brown. Killing people opposed to higher marginal tax rates. Hodgkinson completely bought your entire moral argument, every part of it.

        Under tribal justice, any tax below the revenue maximizing tax rate can be viewed as morally utterly reprehensible leading to excess consumption by the wealthy at the direct expense of the weak, the poor and the sick.

        The math is crucial and your math to create this argument is fatally flawed. We are well above the revenue maximizing tax rate with the exception of your side’s rich donors. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Bezos and the Google boys all pay less than ten percent.

        And, you have never advocated to increase their taxes. I laid out how this would be done and you attacked me.