Trump’s Obstruction Defense: Rod Rosenstein Wrote a Letter

The WSJ has posted a transcript of their interview with Trump.

I think it shows how he plans (and may have planned, from the start) to defend against obstruction charges: by noting that Rod Rosenstein, in his letter supporting Comey’s firing, said stronger things against Comey than Trump did.

He returned to this idea three times in the interview. First, after WSJ first noted that Mueller may be looking at obstruction charges.

TRUMP: There has never been, in the history — in the history of an administration anybody that was more open than we were. You understand that?

WSJ: Yes.

TRUMP: We gave them everything. We didn’t go to court and say, “You can’t have this document, you can’t have” — and what we gave them showed — I never got a phone call from Russia. I didn’t have a tweet. I didn’t have a — I had nothing. I didn’t have an email. I didn’t have a meeting. I didn’t have — did I have one meeting with — about Russia? And…

WSJ: Well, Mueller’s also looking at some other areas, right? Like obstruction of justice…

TRUMP: Well allow — let me — (inaudible). So, they make up a crime, and the crime doesn’t exist. And then they say obstruction. And how could there be obstruction on firing Comey? When the man who’s in charge of it wrote a letter that was far stronger than anything I would have written. He was in charge — Deputy Rosenstein. He wrote a letter that’s far stronger than even what I say.

Again, after ranting a bit about how badly the Democrats once wanted Comey fired.

All you have to do is take a look, seriously – take a look at all these people, they all wanted him fired. And the FBI was a mess. When he announced the Hillary Clinton fiasco where she was guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty and then where they did the interview with no tape recorder, with no swearing in, with no this, with no that – you know the story.

But take a look at all of these people that became critics of my firing (ph), they all wanted him fired. And they wanted him fired until I said, “he’s fired.” But the deputy, Rosenstein, who is in charge, he wrote a letter that was possibly or probably stronger than anything I would have written or did write.

Then he returns to it just as WSJ tries to get him to shift to talking about infrastructure.

WSJ: (Inaudible) infrastructure (inaudible).

TRUMP: But just so you understand…

WSJ: Oh, sorry.

TRUMP: …The Deputy Attorney General, who’s in charge of the case, wanted – all you have to do is read his letter. So that’s – there’s no obstruction there.

But Rosenstein!!! He seems to be saying.

I’m interested in this, in general. But I’m also interested in how closely tied the notion that Democrats would celebrate a Comey firing is with the claim that because Rosenstein said meaner things about Comey, there couldn’t be obstruction.

I wonder whether this was the plan all along. And I wonder whether these two whackjob ideas came from the same person: Jared.

13 replies
  1. Domye West says:

    Really makes me wonder why Rod is still overseeing the investigation. Seems like a pretty big issue, that, if they are investigating obstruction Rod would be a witness. Very weird.

  2. michelle says:

    I’m interested in this, in general. But I’m also interested in how closely tied the notion that Democrats would celebrate a Comey firing is with the claim that because Rosenstein said meaner things about Comey, there couldn’t be obstruction.

    This reminds me of how Trump keeps referring to Rosenstein as “a Democrat”.

    • bt says:

      Trump keeps referring to Rosenstein as “a Democrat”.

      –> Trump’s low-level intellect is most certainly making anyone whose name ends in “Stein” into a democrat / socialist / communist. It’s a racist line of thought with a long lineage.

      • Domye West says:

        I agree with this, but I also think it’s just because right now he views Rod as the opposition. I think he would call any opposition “democrat”.

    • Trip says:

      This is Breitbart signalling as far as I can tell. If you have watched any Michael Wolff interviews, over time, it’s clear that Bannon was essentially the ghost writer, and Wolff supports his views. Wolff, I believe, may have even called Trump a “Democrat”. But he most definitely called “Jarvanka” (his touch with the ‘r’) “Democrats”. One time I witnessed Wolff state plainly that they are Democrats, without quoting or eluding to a source, and thus revealing his own take. This has nothing, really, to do with a dedicated ideology, it’s more about tagging them with a word considered the highest pejorative one could use in Breitbart-Bannon land. It reflects “enemy” in the strictest way , (as @Domye West noted). It’s a trigger.

      We are now beyond theater of the absurd, where words have no meaning, since Trump insists Comey was fired for “being mean to Clinton”, while he can’t seem to stop talking about how Corrupt Clinton is, as a deflection from the investigation of his camp. Trump told Holt he fired Comey because of “this Rush-ser” thing, and he has consistently clearly testified to his contempt of Clinton, almost nonstop, thereafter. His actions never jibe with his rationale, not for very long anyway. He can’t contain himself.


  3. Peterr says:

    It’s all a simple misunderstanding, not obstruction. President Trump simply asked “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest FBI Director?” If Rosenstein misunderstood this question as a command, that’s his problem, not the president’s.


  4. Rugger9 says:

    Well, unlike Henry II, the Kaiser does not have royal powers under the Constitution, nor are illegal orders enforceable (I’m ex-USN, so I know).

    This letter claim is really nothing new, because until Caesar Disgustus blabbed to the Russians about the real reason for removing Comey, the “official” cover story was FBI morale citing Rosenstein’s letter with a side of HRC emails. The apparent theory in the WH was that because of the HRC email fiasco the Ds would only be too happy to see Comey defenstrated, but they miscalculated. FWIW, Rosenstein may (repeat, “may”) be so disgusted by the attempts to point the finger at him alone that he will not back the Kaiser when he tries to fire Mueller (my pool entry is no later than March 31 or one week after Jared gets indicted). The fact that Rosenstein has so far resisted pressure to fire Mueller tells me he’s not the foot soldier Trumpie they thought they had.

    Not that it truly matters, but the House Intel Committee chair Nunes couldn’t name a single falsehood in the Steele Dossier. There are as-yet-unverified things, but so far I haven’t seen anything debunked with documentation.

    It’s irrelevant to the Special Counsel since the Mueller investigation has not relied upon the dossier for anything, but is relevant in the political discussion since the GOP keeps trying to say it’s false without offering details or evidence in more attempts to muddy the waters and obstruct Mueller. That’s why DiFi’s release of the GPS Fusion testimony is such a problem, because when one breaks down the questions into two columns it is clear that the GOP was trying to cross-examine an inconvenient witness while the Ds were trying to find out what happened.

    Sara’s going to have some ‘splainin” to do tomorrow about Haiti (where GOP Congresscritter Mia Love’s family is from, apparently). Hahahahahaha.

    • lefty665 says:

      Re Dossier: “There are as-yet-unverified things, but so far I haven’t seen anything debunked with documentation.”  hahahahahaha You really have not been paying attention. But then as you state you are “ex-USN” so that’s not a surprise. Think anyone in the 7th fleet will ever pay enough attention to figure out how to drive a destroyer without running it into other ships and killing sailors?

      • Rugger9 says:

        Brush off the Cheetos, troll.  Unless you’ve been there (and I know you haven’t) don’t talk smack about those who put themselves in harm’s way so you can spout off like a drunken ex-frat boy at the end of the bar.  As far as the destroyers go, I will observe that the career body count has (IIRC) reached back to the head of the 7th and 3rd fleets, which is more accountability than the Kaiser’s palace where Jared still has his clearance.  If you search back, I had predicted exactly that outcome.

        Links, please for those areas where the dossier has been proven wrong.

  5. tryggth says:

    That this is a Jared production feels right to me. But the narrative around landing on the official rationale feels somehow inconsistent.

    * Rosenstein said that his memo was not offered as a justification.
    * He reportedly wrote it after being shown the draft justification.
    * He has not recused himself from the investigation even though it would seem the previous two points would make him a fact witness.
    * That prior to firing week, Sessions made efforts to lay the groundwork for the firing. (I think there was also something noted around Rosenstein.)

    So my surmise is:

    * EW is right about Jared.
    * Effort started early to mid-week the week prior to firing
    * Jared -> Sessions -> Rosenstein on complaint collection.
    * Reported narrative about Rosenstein writing memo after seeing draft memo isn’t correct.
    * Mueller doesn’t need Rosenstein as a fact witness.

    • bmaz says:

      Rosenstein may arguably be a fact witness. But it is not at all clear he is a material one for prosecution. So far see no problem. Keep in mind that attorneys, especially supervisory prosecutors, often become enmeshed slightly in their cases. It happens all the time, and is rarely a big problem. We shall see.

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