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FBI agents, DOJ veterans are relieved Rod Rosenstein hasn’t resigned

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rod rosenstein
Deputy
US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s job was in question on
Monday.

REUTERS/Joshua
Roberts


  • Justice Department veterans and current and former
    intelligence officials expressed relief that deputy attorney
    general Rod Rosenstein had not resigned or been fired following
    a wild Monday morning of conflicting news reports.
  • If Rosenstein steps down, said one current FBI agent
    who requested anonymity to speak about internal matters,
    “[Robert] Mueller’s finished.”
  • But another current FBI agent emphasized that the
    special counsel Mueller has taken steps to ensure relevant
    divisions of the DOJ and FBI are briefed on investigative
    matters that fall under their purview.
  • “If the DAG is fired or resigned, that’s a blow to the
    public facing aspect of the investigation, but it in no way
    means the entire thing would be shut down,” they said. “The
    president would have to fire everybody at the FBI and DOJ for
    that to happen.”

Washington flew into a frenzy on Monday morning following initial reports that
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein expected to leave his job.
But hours later, he was attending a regularly scheduled meeting
at the White House.

Rosenstein’s job was thrown into question after The New York Times reported on
Friday
that he discussed wearing a wire around the president
and advocated for invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump
from office. Rosenstein vehemently denied the report’s
allegations, and subsequent media reports also
called some of the details into question
.

On Monday, the White House and the Justice Department offered
differing accounts following conflicting reports about
Rosenstein’s highly publicized trip to the White House.

White House officials told the
Washington Post
that Rosenstein offered to resign in the wake
of The Times story.

But Justice Department officials told
the Post
that while Rosenstein went to the White House on
Monday expecting to be fired, he did not offer to resign, despite
reportedly weighing the option over the weekend following The
Times’ report.

White House Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
Rosenstein had an “extended conversation” with the president
about the news on Monday and that the two would meet again on
Thursday.

DOJ veterans and current and former intelligence officials
expressed relief in the aftermath of a wild morning that the
deputy attorney general remains in his position.

‘He is the only person, the one buffer, protecting Mueller’


Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller.
AP
Photo/Andrew Harnik


If Rosenstein steps down, said one current FBI agent who
requested anonymity to speak about internal matters, “Mueller’s
finished.”

They were referring to the special counsel Robert Mueller, who is
investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and
whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to sway the race
in his favor. Rosenstein currently oversees the Russia
investigation.

Bob Deitz, a former top lawyer at the CIA and the National
Security Agency, said one of the biggest questions that would
arise from a potential Rosenstein ouster would be, “if not he,
who?”

“Someone else would become deputy attorney general, and if it
isn’t someone like Rod — who has enormous integrity and is smart
and honest — then who?” Deitz said. “And when someone great
leaves, all it does is open up the possibility that some hack
will be appointed in their place.”

Following the mix-up Monday over whether or not Rosenstein would
resign or be fired, Vanity Fair reported that Trump, allegedly
looking to shift the news cycle away from his embattled Supreme Court nominee
Brett Kavanaugh
, decided that firing Rosenstein could take
some of the heat off Kavanaugh.

“The strategy was to try and do something really big,” Vanity
Fair cited one anonymous source “briefed on Trump’s thinking” as
saying. The report said the leak about Rosenstein’s potential
resignation could have been the result of that calculus.

If Rosenstein resigned, “it would be disappointing because he
would abdicate his responsibility,” said the former federal
prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer. “He is the only person, the one
buffer, protecting Mueller.”

Mueller is authorized not only to probe Russia’s interference in
the election, but any and all matters that may arise as a result
of that. Federal guidelines also give him broad authority,
stating that he is not subject “to the day-to-day supervision of
any official of the department.”

But Cramer warned that the biggest danger stemming from
Rosenstein’s potential ouster has nothing to do with his
replacement ending the Russia investigation, because the
political blowback from such a move would be too much.

“Keep in mind that Mueller can’t indict anyone or do anything of
importance without the approval of whoever’s overseeing him,” he
said. “That puts that person in a very powerful position. They
won’t shut it down, but they can slow-walk the investigation.
That’s the biggest concern.”

‘Quitting is basically handing the president victory on a silver
platter’


trump charity
Donald
Trump.

Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty
Images


If Rosenstein had resigned instead of being fired, “it would play
into Trump’s hands,” said Glenn Carle, a retired CIA operative.

The president has long targeted Rosenstein and other DOJ
officials who he believes are working against him.

If Rosenstein were to step down, Carle said, it would solve one
of Trump’s problems without adding another layer to a growing
obstruction case against him.

He added that it would also allow the president to appoint a
loyalist to oversee Mueller, which could “deal a grievous blow to
the idea of the Justice Department serving the Constitution and
the laws rather than an individual.”

Cramer agreed.

“If he gets fired, he gets fired,” he said of Rosenstein.
“There’s some nobility in that. Quitting is basically handing the
president victory on a silver platter.”

Another current FBI agent said there was “no doubt that rank and
file would be angry if Rod Rosenstein stepped down or got fired
because of that NYT report.”

“Many were on high alert this morning,” they added.

But they noted that Mueller has also taken steps to ensure that
certain divisions of the DOJ and FBI are briefed so they could
potentially continue the investigation if Trump fires him or
Rosenstein.

“If [Rosenstein] is fired or resigned, that’s a blow to the
public facing aspect of the investigation, but it in no way means
the entire thing would be shut down,” they said.

“The president would have to fire everybody at the FBI and DOJ
for that to happen.”

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