On Rosenstein, We Shall See …

For a panicked two hours today, it appeared that Rod Rosenstein had either resigned or been fired. Instead, he was attending a regularly scheduled Principal’s Committee after having talked at some length to Trump and John Kelly about the NYT report he was acting erratically in the wake of Trump firing Jim Comey and boasting that he had done so to end the Russian investigation (though the NYT’s reporting wasn’t even that responsible).

The two men will meet again Thursday, as Trump’s SCOTUS nominee gets grilled about an increasing number of sexual assault accusations, to decide Rosenstein’s future.

It’s not entirely clear who would then oversee Mueller if Rosenstein gets fired, but Marty Lederman argues according to normal succession, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would supervise Mueller, but because he has a conflict, it’d likely fall to OLC head Steve Engel.

Those are ordinarily the AG’s functions, not the DAG’s, and unless there’s been a change, DOJ’s view is that the AG’s functions/duties can’t be performed by an “acting” officer (i.e., no “double-acting”). So the responsibility to oversee those investigations would fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Francisco, however, is probably recused from the Russia investigation (at a minimum), because Jones Day, his former firm, represents the Trump Campaign (unless there’s been a change). NF has recused from all SCOTUS cases where Jones Day represents a party, including in the new Term. If NF recuses from supervising Mueller, and any other investigations involving the Trump campaign, those AG functions presumably would be performed by Assistant AG for OLC Steve Engel.

In either case, Jeff Toobin declares that one way or another, that means Mueller is finished.

This issue of who, technically, would be in charge of Mueller is an important one, but it’s not nearly as significant as the broader issue raised by Rosenstein’s likely departure. The President is in charge of the executive branch, and Mueller, as the special counsel, is a subordinate in that branch of the government. If Trump is determined to fire Mueller, or to constrict his investigation in untoward ways, he and his advisers will figure out a way to do it. There is little doubt that the President could ultimately find a compliant Justice Department official to carry out his order of execution. In other words, the massacre this week may lead to another, like the one on a Saturday night in 1973 when Richard Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor. This modern version would be an abuse of power of the most profound sort. Firing Mueller—who has been investigating Trump and his campaign and Administration for a year and a half—would be the very definition of a high crime and misdemeanor, as impeachable offenses are defined in the Constitution. But would the Republicans who control Congress see it that way?

Put another way, the real question is whether there is any political will among the Republicans who run the legislative branch of government to check Trump’s power.

My guess is what happens between now and Thursday matters a lot. It’s possible, for example, that the Trump Administration could implement some plan to put an even more competent hatchet man in place behind Rosenstein (or get him to resign, which would leave more options). Or it’s possible that Mueller has key indictments sufficiently developed to roll them out in the next day or so (though there’s no grand jury before Thursday at the earliest). I think it even possible that Rosenstein will not only be able to explain the NYT report away (in part by suggesting that it’s just an Andrew McCabe attempt to get back at Trump), but also explain why things will be worse for Mueller if he does fire him.

So we shall see.

184 replies
  1. klynn says:

    A timeline of all the false leaks from anon sources and calculated misdirections intended would be an insightful tool right now.  Swan today…NPR 1.5 weeks ago re the Manafort plea…

    It is terrible how this keeps happening.  Honestly, burning sources just might need to become vogue.

    • Rayne says:

      Co-sign. White House and GOP Senate+House shouldn’t be permitted to manipulate AND endanger the press at the same time. So disappointed the media hasn’t planned ahead for this increasing crisis; it’s only going to be worse as the end game wends toward the inevitable finale.

        • klynn says:

          Update: Based on NYT-Maggie’s recent tweet and Swan’s defensive tweet a little bit ago…I would say the timeline would be a must.

          • Tracy says:

            Is there a way that Mike Schmidt et al pay a steep price for costing us our democracy, aside from losing the democracy?

            Which may be enough in itself – it may not be so fun for them when they can’t print whatever they want (though they’ll always have a job in State Media).

  2. Michael Dubrovich says:

    I think this story about the Rosenstein firing was ginned up by the White House to distract from all the allegations coming out about Brett Kavanaugh.  No proof – just a hunch.

    • Tracy says:

      Also sourced anonymously, but rings true to me:


      “According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. ‘The strategy was to try and do something really big,’ the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.”

          • Tom says:

            Speaking of Trump and books in the same sentence, has anyone heard of plans for a Donald J. Trump Presidential Library?   Hard to imagine what would be in it.  Maybe all the documents that his aides swiped off his desk before he could read them?

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The long weekend away from the White House with just the core team of loyal whisperers — particularly Miller and Scavino — has precedent of leading to recklessness. Maybe a few days of showy bilaterals and ceremonials with more of the cabinet around will soothe his toddler-temper. Maybe being holed up on 5th Avenue without adult supervision pushes things the other way. We’ll know soon enough.

    But if the access reporters are going to snitch out their rivals’ sources, that’s a useful bloodletting.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I’m curious how the politics plays out. I know there is a wing that would be happy with a burnt earth strategy – people like Cotton and Meadows would be happy with jamming Kavanaugh through, and then seeing what they could get in a lame duck session and hunkering down until 2020 with executive orders and whatever mayhem hey can milk from the Supreme Court.

      I’m not sure people like McConnell are onboard with that and would prefer to increase the odds for a slim GOP Senate majority and the opportunity for a lot more judges. There are probably a lot of big donors (not all, to be sure) who also have a lot of unfinished business. They’ll be voting to keep the powder dry at least until after the election.

      Hannity’s recent warning that this is a trap is a suggestion that there’s a lack of consensus, and I think Trump’s instincts in the face of conflicting advice is to dither.

      I would lay down a small bet that there is no firing right away, but I won’t make a Kavanaugh-sized wager.

      • orionATL says:

        yeah, cotton and meadows and his freedom caucus would be happy to see trump burn the barn down. after all, meadows might become minority leader if republicans lost enough members.

        but i’m confident mcconell and ryan and trump’s new golfing buddy, sen. graham, would not.

        i keeep thinking these long months that maybe that knuclehead would eventually catch on to what being president involves, but he was so inexperienced and has been so terrified by the job once he was in it that he never started learning. maybe now he’s starting to see his limits, work within them, and take the long view, but i ain’t putting any money on it.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    I’m guessing there’s a 50/50 chance Rod keeps his job.  Remember, the Hannity warning that this was a “trap”

    Also, the “he resigned” stories seem to be coming from John Kelly or someone who has access to his conversations.  That would suggest that Kelly was probably behind the original NYT story, on some level.

    • Drew says:

      If Rosenstein wants to hold on, there’s no better way than to have a meeting with the Donald. Trump talks tough, but not in person. On the show he says, “You’re fired!” But he can’t face anyone down and say it. If Rosenstein were going to get fired, it would be by an order through Kelly to Sessions while Trump is golfing–or better, while Rosenstein is at the bedside of a dying parent, sibling or spouse.

  5. MIJ says:

    Well considering that Kavanaugh is up for the seat that was once destined for Robert Bork it would seem only fitting and proper that Kavanaugh’s doppleganger at DOJ (surely Phelan can find one) be given the honors.

  6. pacific says:

    When, as this morning, critical,  yet, normally easily verifiable facts, e.g., Rosenstein offer to resign, or resignation accepted, or fired or ?,  are nonetheless hidden by a swirling fog of chaotic and conflicting reporting, I turn to this website, and the emptywheel twitter feed.  Your informed and uniquely insightful reporting gives me a vantage point from which to try to begin to understand what is going on.

    What exactly was the purpose of this 2 hour period during which Rosenstein’s status seemed unknowable to folks like me.  Was the information put out by the White House to distract from additional women credibly claiming  sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh? Was it a trial balloon to gage the response of Congress, allies, the Democrats et al. to Rosenstein’s resignation/termination?

    As to the Thursday meeting between Trump and Rosenstein, one can only hope that Rosenstein is able to explain away the NYT report and to convince Trump that things will be much worst if Trump should fire him.

    That Trump is considering firing or forcing Rosenstein to resign before the 2018 elections, despite the resulting political fallout, suggests that Trump believes Mueller is pretty far along.  Hopefully,  Mueller will file indictments that change the Republicans political calculus as to the necessity of exercising their obligation to contain Trump.

    Otherwise, it will be time to exercise one’s first amendment rights to peacefully demonstrate.

  7. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Breaking News! Trump is manipulating the media! In other breaking news, John Kelly is still a lying racist. Someone please prove me wrong…

    • Frank Probst says:

      John Kelly IS a lying racist, but technically speaking, there’s been no blatant racism (yet) in this story.

      • orionATL says:

        how could there be racism? up ’til now its been just good ol’ white boys having fun –

        – nominee and pals in high school AND college,

        – federalist society nominators and schemers like its prez, leonard leo,

        – white house collaborators and prez,

        – kavanaugh defenders in the media,

        – especially murdoch’s hardball hitmen (but “the girls of fox”, too),
        – the boys of a rightwing intellectual persuasion housed at the think tanks

        just imagine the really funny off-color jokes going around privately in those animal houses.

        off-color behavior is your “racism” here.

    • Anon says:

      I think that’s one possibility. The other is that there are people around Trump who either know that they are staring down the barrel of indictments or who know that he is and doesn’t know it and they are trying to wind him up to save themselves or, in their minds, him.

      Remember Trump is only one of the people exposed here and the worst he may face is losing his current temp gig.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Brett Kavanaugh is on his own says the White House today.  When Donald Trump says he backs you to the hilt, he means as far in as the figurative blade will go.  Roy Cohn and all that.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It was from more than one MSM source, but which ones escape me just now.

        The tenor of the articles was typical of this White House: Trump never liked Brett to begin with, he caved in to GOP pressure in a fit of compromise, never should have done it. (He’ll fight like hell to avoid withdrawing the nomination himself – too much like taking responsibility or caving to Dems – but he would push hard for Brett to withdraw it himself.)

        Standard issue walk away before the nomination tanks, thanks very much, what’s all the kerfluffle.  Pretend you had no part in it from the beginning.  Trump is every moralist and ethicist’s worst nightmare.

  9. getouttahere says:

    Is it simply access that makes the offending Times reporters so troublesome? They cannot be entirely stupid. Or can they be?

    It seems that the house of t and the repugs is about to implode, based on many recent developments (Manafort coop deal; Cohen probably spilling his guts too; KT Mcfarland “correction”; kavanought nom in trouble and sex predators redux, polls on the upcoming elections, escalating trade war . . . )

    The scary shit is what desperate spoiled boys trying to be men may do in desperate times. Rosenstein has done t’s bidding before  (fire Comey memo) and maybe he’ll show enough obeisance to hang on, so if I were living in say Qom or Terehan, I’d be worried.

  10. Tracy McDonald says:

    Do the chances of Rosenstein being fired increase if Kavanaugh is in deep doo-doo on Thursday?

    We look more and more like a banana republic.

  11. Tracy says:

    Do the chances of Rosenstein being fired increase if Kavanaugh is in deep doo-doo on Thursday?

    We look more and more like a banana republic.

  12. orionATL says:

    to repeat, there is no reason why a federal police official such as the deputy attorney general could not secretly record the president with a legitimate rationale. after all, all the rest off us are subject to legalized, court-and-congress sanctioned  (this for sanctimonious republican congresscritters) spying from our governments on our landlines, our license  plates, our cell phones, and our written communications.

    as for the 25th amendment, what the hell is the point of having it if a bonkers prez or one of his faithful handmaidens can fire you for even suggesting employing it. this is the least legitimate reason in the world for firing a major gov’t official – “he wasn’t loyal. he wasn’t a team member. he raised the issue of actually using the 25 amendment”.

    trump would be very smart not to fire rosenstein over this issue lest it bring it to the fore all the legitimate reasons to consider trump intellectually impaired.

  13. marksb says:

    Rumors and leaks that Rosenstein is getting fired, corrective/countering leaks that no, he’s resigning, followed by Kelly walking out of the WH with him–still in office–in view of the cameras and shaking his hand. Hard to read the smoke signals when everyone is sending them. Smoke gets in your eyes, indeed.

  14. Frank Probst says:

    Fox News appears to be coalescing around the “Don’t fire him!!!” message.  Judge Napolitano has come out against it (waiting for video at rawstory, but the story is up).  Laura Ingraham is backing off her call to fire him.  Hannity is definitely against it, and I think Fox & Friends will follow Hannity’s and Napolitano’s lead on this.  I think that by tomorrow we’ll be seeing stories about how the President doesn’t believe the story in the Failing New York Times.

    • Howamart says:

      If Hannity has decided (or been directed by his overlords) against it, then Trump’s mind has been made up…until Muellers next move.

        • maybe ryan says:

          Brit Hume reported that the Rosenstein wear a wire line was merely a sarcastic response to pressure to “stand up to Trump.”  “What do you want me to do, wear a wire?”

          My question is why?  Why are all these Fox people lined up on the side of keeping Rosenstein?

  15. Tracy says:

    Here’s more from Jonathan Swan (who apologizes here for his crappy wording this morning), though it’s hard to trust anyone, least of all Axios, today (and the situation DOES seem fluid):
    “Justice Department drafted exit statement for Rod Rosenstein”
    “The draft statement from Sessions says: ‘Rod Rosenstein has served the Department of Justice with dedication and skill for 28 years. His contributions are many and significant. We all appreciate his service and wish him well.’
    “The draft statement goes on to say that Sessions’ chief of staff Matt Whitaker would go on to serve as his deputy, and that Noel Francisco, the Solicitor General, would serve as the Acting Attorney General overseeing the special counsel investigation.
    “When I asked Flores whether she denies that Rosenstein offered his resignation to Kelly, she replied: ‘My only statement is that Rod is the DAG [Deputy Attorney General].’
    “The bottom line: It’s unclear whether President Trump will fire Rosenstein if he refuses to resign when they meet on Thursday.”

  16. Frank Probst says:

    I don’t understand how they get to 50 votes on Kavanaugh.  By the time Thursday rolls around, the media will be looking for an alternative phrase to “gang bang”.  I can’t imagine ANY Democrat voting for him by then.  He’ll be far too toxic at that point, and they have to know that there will almost certainly be more bad news rolling out even after the confirmation vote.  A party-line vote gets you to 51-49, but Lisa Murkowski has all but vanished in recent days.  She has the Native Alaskan bloc to worry about, so she desperately needs to vote against Kavanaugh and then get a nominee that will be acceptable to the Native Alaskans.  I think she’ll break.  So that puts you at 50-50, with Pence breaking the tie.  But I can’t see that happening, because it will mean any one of those 50 Senators could have stopped this guy from being confirmed.  They’re going to be tethered to this vote forever, and it’s going to come up with every single controversial Supreme Court decision.  All 50 of them will have to have enough backbone to be considered “the deciding vote” here, and I just can see all 50 of them having that much “courage”.

    • Tracy says:

      And more is likely to come out, even after any confirmation, that would hang over their YES vote – I think that they know that they have to consider every possibility, including that this could get really bad, including Cosby-level-bad. They may already know more than we do, as happened with the Deborah Ramirez allegation.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      They’ll vote to confirm. The die was cast by the time of the tax bill. If they knuckled under for that bill and the way that was rammed through, they’ve been broken.

      If I were a voter in one of the states with a supposed swing vote senator, I’d be furious that they missed a golden opportunity to wring huge concessions in return for their vote. What did Collins get for Maine on the tax bill? What is she getting for Maine for the Kavanaugh vote? How did Toomey and Johnson let their state income tax deduction get shredded? What kind of tarriff relief is Sasse getting for his farmers if he votes for Kav?

      They’re getting rolled, and they don’t care, because they’ve been broken in half and can’t feel anything anymore.

  17. bmaz says:

    Couple of thoughts on the main post:

    1) I am not so sure Noel Francisco has a disqualifying conflict, and he may already have sought guidance from the career ethics people in this regard. Frankly, I think Francisco’s “conflict is even less than Rosenstein’s, and DOJ ethics have give RR a clean pass. That said, Francisco, though not required to, may well claim conflict to get out of that hot seat.

    2) I tend a little more toward the Toobin take as to what it all would mean, but not totally. And Paul Rosenswieg, who I respect quite a bit, thinks FAR differently than Toobin. I don’t have Paul’s confidence, but think the truth somewhere likely in the middle.

    3) Neither Steve Engel nor Francisco know diddly shit about criminal prosecutions. That is a potential problem.

    4) McCabe swears this is not his revenge. Not sure what I believe there, but there are others that want to do damage to the OSC that could be portraying it that way.

    • Frank Probst says:

      I guess the question we all want answered is whether or not either of them would be willing to be tainted forever by firing Mueller.

        • Mitch Neher says:

          Might there be any reason to suspect Dana Boente, currently the general counsel of the FBI, who replaced James Baker at that post, of being the person who briefed the anonymous sources for The NYT story about Rosenstein’s comments?

      • bmaz says:

        Was on CNN earlier today, but don’t have link. His other work is at Lawfare and Washington Post opinion section.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      For what it’s worth, this Walter Schaub’s take on Francisco getting a waiver.


      I don’t buy McCabe as being a source in any serious way. I cannot see him being naive how this plays out, and I don’t see this advancing his interests. He has much bigger beef with people like Sessions and the IG, and I also think he cares about the integrity of law enforcement, even if he is mad about his firing.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, I just don’t necessarily agree with Schaub’s take on the “seriousness” of the conflict. There is not a shred of evidence Francisco worked on the Trump Campaign representation. That is simply not definitively disqualifying under DOJ guidelines, especially for only a supervisory role, as I understand them. Which is not to say that Francisco may want no part of this shitshow and claim it anyway.

  18. Doctor My Eyes says:

    At the risk of emphasizing celebrity over substance, I’m curious what the bright lights here think of Avenatti.  To me he’s certainly a gust of fresh air and an actual example of the truth-to-power so much talked about and so little deployed with any effect.  But if I weren’t sympathetic to his causes and impressed by his seeming competence, I would have to consider him just another media clown.  I mean, all the behavior is there and it’s just weird to me that here he is again, at the center of it all. How did that come to be?  Don’t get me wrong–right now he’s my guy and I think he backs up his bravado.  I’m just curious what cooler and more legally savvy heads think.

    • Tracy says:

      I think that women trust him to support them. When this woman wanted to reach out and tell her story, he was someone she “knew” and trusted to have her back.

      His strategy with Stormy certainly got information out into the public, not being a lawyer I’m not sure what it did for her actual case, but he appears to support women.

      I just wonder about his media (and otherwise) strategy within this specific arena – it’s a million times of a more sensitive issue.

      And if people on the “other side” are saying that this is all just a smear campaign, it does seem that his brazen tactics will actually inflame that more in this moment, while possibly not accomplishing much.

      All of his demands to the SJC haven’t worked yet, such as getting Judge and his client to testify Thurs, so I’m not sure he’ll get any met. And did he watch what Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley did with Merrick Garland? They don’t care what appearances are, they will do anything that they perceive to be furthering their self self interest.

      But honestly, I really do not know what is best – I just feel that women ought to be able to tell their story where, when, and in the way that’s right for them.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Hear! Hear! I read where you said that the other day, that it’s the woman’s story to tell.  That was a welcome education for me. Thank you.

        It does worry me a smidgen that he already has a name and can easily be seen as a blowhard.  I loved it with the Stormy situation, but this is more sensitive, as you say. If he actually has the credible evidence he claims, I hope he doesn’t get in the way of the evidence being seen and accepted.  Generally, I’m a huge fan.  To me, he and Stormy are heroes.

        • Tracy says:

          Hey, Doc, thank you for your kind words – I definitely believe that women need to feel empowered to tell their own stories on their own terms! We need to hear more marginalized voices in our world.

          I am also inspired by Avenatti’s fire – if I feel down about how everything is going, I look at his Twitter feed b/c know that he’s always taking it to The Man – he makes me feel like justice CAN be done, which in low moments I question – and I think it’s great that he’s unabashedly supported a porn star; he’s probably elevated that profession for a lot of people. And he does advocate for women, children, and against family separation.

          He also supports transparency and The Truth coming out to the American people, so I think overall he’s doing good things.

          Well, I hope he has a trick or two in his bag to twist the SJC’s arm a bit, and I hope he knows what he’s doing on this one. But I always come back to: we just have to go by how the woman wants to speak out, not how her story can be used for others’ gain – that’s not empowering to her, it’s just more patriarchal control. So I look forward to hearing her story and supporting her – if and when it’s right for her. Hopefully Avenatti is the right messenger and that people are open to it!

    • Frank Probst says:

      He’s a media whore, but I haven’t seen a single instance yet where he’s had to issue a significant retraction, and his predictions have usually been spot-on.  I probably wouldn’t like him as a friend, but if I needed a lawyer who was going to protect my interests while simultaneously making my opponents make critical errors, he’s who I’d call.  And now that it’s known that he’s on this case, he’ll probably be getting more calls about Kavanaugh.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s brokered a lot of settlements over the past few months for people who need the money more than they need an apology.

      • Trip says:

        I’ll preface this by saying that I really really don’t want him running for president. Having said that, he feeds the right a taste of the GOP’s own poison.

  19. Thomas says:

    Does anyone think that all of the ongoing state and federal cases can be stopped by firing Rosenstein?
    I find that hard to believe.

    JD Gordon, Carter Page, Erik Prince, Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Brad Perscale: quid pro quo. The agreement to it, the implementation of it, the payoff for it.
    They already have Flynn, Manafort and Gates. Those three should be enough to indict the above, but Mueller has testimony from 37 others?
    Oh, and let’s add Pence as an indicted co-conspirator and Trump himself as an unindicted co-conspirator.
    (imho, Stone and others will be indicted later)

      • Bob Conyers says:

        If the Trump DOJ spikes investigations, are there barriers (beyond the statutes of limitations restrictions) that his officials can create to stop reopening them after 2020?

        • bmaz says:

          Hard to say, but maybe not. Statutes are important though, most (though not all) of the pertinent crimes have the general 5 year statute.

  20. Kevin Finnerty says:

    If we assume that Mueller cannot issue any more indictments until after the election, then these next ~50 days represent a uniquely dangerous period for the investigation. With Manafort flipping, Trump’s team must know  that Mueller has unearthed information that would be devastating if disclosed. If Mueller cannot speak through indictments until mid November, this is Trump’s last chance to keep that information hidden, desperate though it might be.

    This is why I don’t buy the argument that the NYT article caught Trump by surprise. Trump has to take action now if he has any hope of burying the investigation. Once the conspiracy indictments are out, there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. The article gives Trump a pretext to oust Rosenstein at the exact moment when the investigation is at a vulnerable state (and right before it becomes a category five hurricane).

  21. bie phiephus says:

    So does the risk of Rosenstein being fired on Thursday dispose of Rosenstein/Mueller’s obligation to follow the keep-quiet-for-60-days-pre-election rule (that is, if they even cared in the first place)? Wednesday would be a great day for indictments.

    • bmaz says:

      The problem with that is Mueller’s grand jury only runs on Fridays, and occasionally Thursdays. There will not be any snap indictments.

        • bmaz says:

          Not really unless they are already there and sealed. Once returned, indictments have to be presented to the court via the presiding judge.

  22. orionATL says:

    right now, my concern is that rosenstein has had enough of pressure and may collapse from it and willingly resign, even if not pressured to do so.

    • SteveB says:

      If Rosenstein was going to resign why hasn’t it happened?

      Trump could have said thank you very much. It was not as if the ground for resignation was supposedly principled opposition to some order he objected to, but rather for some sort of shame faced recognition of imprudence unrelated to the oversight of Mueller.

      I do not buy the offer to resign story at all. The stories do not add up IMHO. And as for this spin:

      “Rod Rosenstein overestimated how angry President Trump would be after the New York Times report, a senior administration official tells CNN, leading him to offer his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly. Rosenstein expected to be fired”


      I don’t doubt that ShimonP is faithfully reporting what his source asserts, but as an explanation for the events it seems like the purest bs.

      I suspect that the entire sequence of events from the NYT story onwards was a contrivance by some smart arse at the WH to “resign” Rosenstein, imagining that doing so would curry favour with the boss, but 1 RR wouldn’t play ball and dared them to fire him and 2 even Hannity calculated that a contrived forced resignation would do more harm than good with the mid terms coming up, and no adequate plan for who and how to take over RR responsibilities at DOJ.

      In short, a mis-planned poorly executed maneuvre against RR. That is not to say that now the ball has started to roll they may end up finishing what they started. As ever with matters Trumpian, I am inclined towards the explanation involving the greatest level of malevolent stupidity consistent with the known facts.

  23. Rusharuse says:

    Just running scared each place we go so afraid that he might showJust running scared what would I do if he came back and wanted youJust running scared feeling low

    Roy Orbison

    Why Rod must go NOW!
    “The scariest thing about Rod Rosenstein isn’t that he protected the continued existence of Robert Mueller’s investigation: it’s that he signed an order expanding the scope of that investigation to include the money-laundering scheme on which Paul Manafort was convicted. Most of the document that contained that expansion was redacted. It’s not hard to guess what was under all that black ink: authority to investigate Trump’s business dealings.
    Trump wants that authority ended now. And based on what he’s seen from Mueller in the agreement with Manafort, he cannot afford to wait. This is a part of the authority that Rosenstein extended to Mueller.”

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice strawman from Brett Kavanaugh on Fox Noise today, paraphrasing slightly: “I couldn’t have raped Dr. Ford because I was a ‘virgin’ in high school.”

    K also says he’s never assaulted anyone, never met Dr. Ford, and never went to the party she refers to. Since she hasn’t said yet whose party, where or when, perhaps Mr. Kavanaugh is committing anticipatory denial or suffers from premature adjudication. (h/t Horace Rumpole.)

    Hillary and Bill must be particularly fuming over his, “I won’t let false accusations drive us out of this,” line.

    But the claim of being a virgin doesn’t explain much. I have heard, for example, that during the 1980s, an unofficial rule was that you remained a “virgin” so long as you avoided male penetration of the vagina. Use of other body parts and orifices did not lead to loss of virginal status. Not to mention that high alcohol intake frequently correlates with erectile dysfunction.

    Whereas “rape” requires unlawful forced “sexual intercourse,” virginal status – by either party – does not preclude attempted rape or any of a variety of sexual assaults and impositions. So, perhaps the lad doth protest not enough, methinks.


    • Bob Conyers says:

      FYI, that’s not just a 1980s thing, and modern sex ed classes try to talk to kids about rethinking that kind of narrow definition. Which is probably why some parents get mad at the classes, becuse kids start doubting what parents say about their own histories.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if that kind of thinking was behind Kavanaugh’s graphic questions for Clinton.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      The narrow definition of virginity isn’t just a 1980s thing, it’s very much alive today. Current high school sex ed classes often try to get kids to rethink these issues, which may be one reason why a lot of parents get mad at the classes – kids start to question the denials of parents about their histories.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Kavanaugh’s attitudes are tied to the graphic questions he wrote up for Bill Clinton.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There is the problem that oral sex is often considered neither “sex” nor capable of transmitting STDs.  Not advice that’s a problem for the 1% for whom “Just Say No” works wonders.  It does not work wonders for anyone else.

    • JD12 says:

      I think his being a virgin is even more incriminating. The alleged sexual misconduct plus the Clinton bed-sniffing are the behavior of a frustrated incel.

    • posaune says:

      Kavanaugh’s sense of causality is non-existent.    Really, quite Trump-like in reverse causality:  “It didn’t happen because I said it didn’t happen.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’d love to take credit for it, but it comes from John Mortimer.  It is a lawyer’s pun, conflating the concept of ripeness – whether a matter has reached a stage where it is ready for judicial action – with premature ejaculation.

        Barrister and writer John Mortimer gave the phrase to Horace Rumpole, counsel for the defense of small-time criminals, picker uppers of trifles: “I never plead guilty!”  The phrase was used by UCLA law professor Paul Bergman in, Rumpole’s Ethics:

        Rumpole whispered many of his embarrassing witticisms to interns or solicitors in mid-trial, only to be overheard by a suddenly sharp-eared judge. For example, in an episode called Rumpole of the Bailey: The Old, Old Story (ITV television broadcast Jan. 19, 1987), the dotty trial judge takes over the questioning of a prosecution witness. Rumpole whispers to his client’s solicitor that “the judge is suffering from a bad case of premature adjudication.” The judge cups his ear and asks, “did you say something Rumpole?” Rumpole hastily explains, “I said there will be a full explanation, Your Lordship.”

    • Greenhouse says:

      His postop adjudication that virginity does not equal sexual assault is not surprising coming from a guy who refers to birth control as abortion inducing drugs.

  25. Wm. Boyce says:

    Don’t forget that the coming Democratic house will have all kinds of power to resuscitate any damned investigation they want to.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Knock on wood and cross my fingers I hope you’re right. But wow, will they have a lot of work ahead of them. They will need to be very smart about coordinating their work. Fortunately, I think it will be a glory enough for all situation.

      I am fully expecting, however, ugly fights over subpoenas, and plenty of stonewalling by the Trump camp. One of Kavanaugh’s main roles is going to be inventing reasons why presidents don’t have to comply, at least until a Democrat is elected, and then it will be Starr time all over again

      • orionATL says:

        if pelosi retains the gavel, i’d predict there will not be an immediate effort to attack trump. this would be politically stupid. the first efforts would be to undo the damage trump&co have done and to make that damage manifest. there is political education to be done

        if the dems take the house and, lucky for them, pelosi remains speaker, their first jobs will be medicare/medicaid, affordable care act protection, foodstamps protection, immigration, maybe childcare, hopefully warren’s corporations bill.
        the key matter re trump would be to immediately confront the senate with a protect osc/mueller bill. here’s hoping.

        • Tracy says:

          Yeah, and I really warn Dems thinking that it’d be great to have a newbie in there to bring young blood into the leadership – yes this needs to be done eventually, but Pelosi is experienced, and we are going to have our hands FULL with the biggest problems that could face ANY Congress right off the bat. I’m a big advocate of having Pelosi in there to navigate us through these treacherous waters.

          But every single person has to get out and vote – due to the heavy gerrymandering, Dems need to be up 8+ points everywhere.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Impeachment, no, but some things will and should start right away. Releasing Trump’s taxes will be one thing.

          I suspect there will be a lot of head scratching about his taxes at first, because all things Trump involve more and more cycles of detective work.

          I suspect the Pruitt style corruption that has been exposed so far is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are a lot of career employees waiting to release information outside of  channels controlled by Trump allies.

          But I see it like drinking from a fire hose, and I understand the need for caution and not swamping the legislative side. Having said that, Trump will veto anything the Democrats pass that somehow isn’t killed in the Senate. So there will be a need to investigate, and I think there will be a lot of surprises.

          • Trip says:

            Sadly, bmaz retweeted a CNN/Tapper tweet yesterday which was a gallup poll indicating that Republicans are at their highest approval rating in 7 years (maybe more). Who the hell are these people?

            • Wm. Boyce says:

              538 gives Dems an 80+% chance of taking back the house majority. If they are right, they are forecasting a 29-seat Dem majority.

              My hope is the wave will be larger than that.

            • Rayne says:

              Whenever you read those polls, note whether they indicate whether the size of self-identifying Republican voter population has increased/decreased. I can’t think of a poll that indicated this.

  26. seeker says:

    Willis Warren my money is on Kelly as the source of the info to the NYT. That Schmidt is so unnerved by who the source is, that it had to be someone who is literally rubbing elbows with trump. Further, because of the magnitude of damage this can possibly ultimately have on this Democracy, the only way it seems that the NYT would have run with this story is that the source is up front and personal with trump.

  27. Trip says:

    So, um, the Maggie & Mike show, plus others, are insisting Rosenstein wanted to resign.

    By Friday evening, concerned about testifying to Congress over the revelations that he discussed wearing a wire to the Oval Office and invoking the constitutional trigger to remove Mr. Trump from office, Mr. Rosenstein had become convinced that he should resign, according to people close to him. He offered during a late-day visit to the White House to quit, according to one person familiar with the encounter, but John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, demurred.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-justice-department-trump.html

    This is headache inducing, like being knocked back and forth on a ping pong table.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      They’re getting into National Enquirer standards. The Enquirer always had some source they could find somewhere who would say anything about anyone.

      Like Giuliani, they’re counting on the fact that their targets can’t talk now, and also like Giuliani, they’re willfully ignoring that the day will come when those targets won’t be silent.

      • Tracy says:

        I found this a really depressing read, so I’m glad to be reminded by y’all that this is really not very good or sound reporting.

        I think that I and many people are looking desperately around for heroes these days – people putting country above party – and they are rare and far between.

        Mueller and the OSC are heroes and heroines. And I was inspired by Rod Rosenstein when he made that speech that the DoJ would not be cowed.

        But reading this article, it seemed like he’s let his attackers get into his head. It seemed like he’s given up. And that was just really disheartening.

        I mean, he has the OSC to protect – not just anyone can do it (certainly not Noel Francisco, a total partisan rightie!) – so the idea that he’d just give up and let DJT pick anyone he wants b/c Rosenstein resigned was demoralizing.

        Adam Schiff tonight made a great speech about it – he was like: Rod Rosenstein CAN’T resign – his job is far to important! When you are in that job, you NEVER resign, you do your duty to the country first, and if you get corruptly fired for some bad reason, so be it – but you never, ever resign.

        Please, Rod, don’t give up on the OSC! You have the most important job after Bob Mueller and his team!

      • posaune says:

        A stretch conjecture here:   The Times has always exhibited great deference to NYC real estate developers, in fact toward the entire industry.    In my memory, there has never been any rigorous investigative work in this subject area from the Times.  Even in the post-recession construction spike, no serious look at the money-laundering, new-condo-investment schemes that resulted in thousands of unoccupied living units in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Given this hands-off policy, could it be that the NYC RE industry has influenced the Mike and Maggie bunch, in an effort to shut down any serious look at this sector?   Is the NYC RE industry fearful that a crack in Trump’s empire will take down them all vis-a-vis money laundering with the Russians?   The NYC housing report (May 2018) states that 250K units are unoccupied.  Yet, it seems there is such a musical-chairs sense of desperation — perhaps because the end of the building cycle is likely at hand — but somehow, as they say, indicative of the end times.

        It seems impossible to justify the irresponsible reporting, destructive antics and moral weakness of the Times in the past week.    We’ve cancelled our subscription.

  28. jf-fl says:

    I don’t know what will happen… but by saying both that rosenstein WILL resign and also that he would only be fired… we saw this episode once already with another office or secretary (VA i believe), where the person claimed to have been fired and WH said he resigned.

    I’m wondering if they’re setting up a lie that he will resign, fire him, and then even if he recorded himself being fired to prove the lie… they’d say he’s obviously deep state recording president (and/or they frisk him going in, not sure which setup would be worse for country).

    Trump has got his outrage machine ginned up so that the truth doesn’t matter to the crazies and guilty trump voters. Only perception of how things fit into the propaganda. Those who feel some guilt about the day-to-day horrible stuff he does, much easier to fall for stuff like this on big issues. Avoiding personal responsibility on big issues is a very human thing, we’ve all done it. Whatever happens with RR, expect things to get worse than now before improving.

    No matter what happens, keep your sanity, peace and choose your arguments and disagreements ever more carefully.

  29. Avattoir says:

    ‘Rod, good to you came, that’s nice, nice surprise. Here, take this seat. Got all the Fake News coming in a sec. So, what’s happening with Bad News Bobby, still no collusion, right? Did you practice like I told you, the hold your breath thing? Here they come. [harrumph] So, huge crowd today, never seen so many Fake News types; must be something big happening.
    I invited you today because Rod here, Deputy Dog I like to call him, Rod and I are going to sit down here for a while and, you know, talk about things, things that are distracting from the important historic work I’m doing with jobs and the economy and trade and North Korea nukes. And while we’re chatting here so enjoyably, we’re gonna watch the hearings on Brett, my nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kanavral, great guy, great husband and father, people don’t know that. We’re gonna watch on that TV screen, I don’t know which channel, is it Seepan? No? Fox? Okay, fine; I didn’t know, didn’t have anything to do with that, but good choice, Fox News, the best probably. And when the hearings start, when that woman, Chevy Blazer Ford, gets sworn in, Rod here is going to start holding his breath. We’re gonna have a camera on him, a head shot, right? So Rod’s gonna hold his breath until the Democrat party sees how phony this whole deal is and stops obstructing the vote on Brett. Hopefully we can get all that done today, the hearings done, the vote, he’s in. Then Rod can breath again. You okay with this Rod, right? He’s fine, folks; he’s been practicing, I told him to practice. And hopefully things go, you know, well for Brett, and so for Rod, too, and all you will be forced to report some Good News for a change. Do we have what? A doctor standing by? Ben’s here, right? Ben, you here? Yeah, I see you now. If anything happens, you know, unsuspectally, Ben here knows what to do.
    So, there you are: we’re good to go. Thoughts and prayers for, you know, Brett, and, hopefully, good luck Rod.’

  30. Kim Kaufman says:

    Trump hasn’t actually ever fired anyone himself, has he? He has someone else do the dirty work. I don’t see Rosenstein resigning and making it easy for Trump to appoint the creep of his choice and I don’t see Trump firing Rosenstein himself on Thursday. Mosty I don’t understand why NYTimes is doing this.

    Many accounts that Sessions is definitely gone after midterms. I’m not sure what that throws into the mix.

  31. Thomas says:

    bmaz: “snap indictment?”

    Given the incredible volume and detail of the evidence in the Russian indictments, the pace at which those were put together in speaking indictments was masterful.

    Can the evidence be more daunting to assemble regarding the quid pro quo?

    Certainly, indictments would not be a “snap indictments” if they were returned tomorrow about:
    1. Manafort, Papadapoulos, Gates, Flynn et al outreach for the quid pro quo.
    2. Manafort, Trump Jr, Kushner following up on terms for quid pro quo (Trump Tower)
    3. Page relaying message about quid pro quo, then transmitting answer back
    4. Page, Manafort, JD Gordon, Trump coordinating good faith messaging RE: quid pro quo (GOP platform change, “Russia if you are listening”)
    5. Kushner, Perscale, Bannon coordinating the social media campaign with the Russians
    6. Flynn, Gates, Pence, Kushner, Prince, Sessions, JD Gordon et al communicating about the payoff for the quid pro quo (Sanctions relief and policy)
    7. Official actions by Trump delivering the payoff (or attempting to do so)

    The NRA influence campaign, the Stone/wikileaks/Hannity/Guccifer disinfo campaign, and the long train of obstructions could all play out afterwards, and obviously are still being investigated.
    But the outline I give above is hardly devoid of evidence, and has been under investigation for a long time, relatively speaking.
    Trump has been doing business with Russian organized crime for decades, but he knows nothing of all of the people in his top campaign positions and transition and administration carrying out this quid pro quo?

    I would hardly call it a rush to indictment. The hardest thing to nail down, imo, would be the details of the social media coordination, but it seems that most of that work is already done? RE: The Russian indictments?

  32. Avattoir says:

    Though unfair to the intentions of Kenneth Grahame or A.A. Milne, lately I’ve found it increasingly difficult to resist Stormy Daniel’s depictions of Trump:
    Mr. Toad & his toadstool
    TOADUS & Toad House
    the TOADministration & Toad’s Wild Ride

    Also, I have trouble seeing value in engaging in fine-tuned readings on the supposed political calculus involved when we all recognize that the TOADUS’s math skills all involve other people’s money, 100% or greater leveraged debt financing, laundering bribes & other special considerations thru otherwise irrational flips, fraudulent extremist rentier conduct, and mystery licensing on his Toadship’s amphibian warrants of appointment.

    • Fran of the North says:

      The devil made me do it…

      I was going to wait for the weekend Free-For-All for this, but since you brought it… er… up(!), I figured now is as good a time as any.

      As I thought about the more salacious parts of the reports of Stormy’s memoirs, I wondered about the motivations. Clearly, selling books. But I think she really wants to hit GiC hard, in response to his attacks on her and the other women.

      So often his Cohn style attacks elicit minimal response if any. Which only leads to more attacks and the megalomania.

      Her description of his private parts are either true, or they are not. She ridicules them in front of the people of the world and he is left with few good options. He can keep it all internal, at some point erupting violently at some other transgression, or he can deny, deny. Attack.

      “Look at these hands.  Are these small hands?” isn’t going to play so well on the cable news channels. Hell, they might get fined for indecency if they don’t pixelate the image.

      But if she is remembering accurately, I think there is another audience. She is providing tacit support for those other women, named and unnamed. “We’ve been there together, and I’m doing my best to fight back for all of us.”

      Finally, I’d bet that Stormy is sending a VERY clear message to Melania. “Yes, my story is true. Here is the proof.” And that won’t play well on the home front.

        • Fran of the North says:

          Yes, your link is on point. It absolutely boggles my mind that Russian media is commenting on this topic. I guess that they’ve got the same needs to distract and change the topic as the GiC does.

          What is that old joke about the pig and chicken talking about bacon and eggs for breakfast? Involved vs Committed if memory serves.

          Committed: we can only hope.

          And in other news,

      • Fran of the North says:


        Au contraire, mon frere. This site loves its myco. But in a related vein, are you sure you didn’t misspell your screen name Dr Fungi?

        Inquiring minds want to know…

  33. maybe ryan says:

    A little nostalgia for old-timers of the site:

    Did anyone see the Sunday NY Times magazine?  There were 11 features, chosen as interesting soundscapes that you could listen to online as you looked at pictures in the magazine – a volcano, a couple urban scenes, an underwater setting, etc.

    One of the 11 features was of the wind whipping through a grove of aspen trees, that had cloned rhizomatically – the roots extending horizontally, till they could send up a new trunk.

    I dearly hoped that when I clicked on the audio, it would be Scooter Libby whispering in Judy Miller’s ear, but alas.

  34. greengiant says:

    Wondering how many dimensions this chess game is in. Since most of these stories including the White House rebellion seem to come from Trump.org the thought occurs to me that this current effort goal is to call out the base for midterms with distractors such as threats of the 25th amendment. Even Kavanough fits the description of a distractor. There is Trump hysteria outside of DC where even very high IQ folk are parroting every single Trump piece of adrenaline charged rat shit and laughing at the 4chan and The_donald jokes. When the mark is channeling the “my what a smart boy am I” con they are not interested in changing their delusion.

  35. jan says:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and we must be there to pick up the pieces.

  36. Eos says:

    The RR kerfluffle looks like what I call the Scaramucci Effect – named for he who blew the Bill Browder day of testimony at SJC out of the media focus by actually calling Lizza and dropping some shiny f-bombs. Now there are both the Kavanaugh/Avenatti explosions and Jamieson’s book at the New Yorker to squelch…cue the Rosenstein whirlwind.

  37. James says:

    My first time commenting. I’ve read for some time, but thought to dip a toe in the water over something I’ve not seen discussed here.

    This is the first case up to bat for the Supreme Court, which might be why the GOP is pushing so hard to get Judge Kavanaugh confirmed to the high court. Via Twitter:

    Thanks to @nastyproud for this heads up.

    Orrin Hatch filed a friend of the court brief for Gamble vs the United States.Thats the case that would end state’s rights to prosecute crimes that the federal govt has tried? Y’all need to get this out https://t.co/7pUUcVUZQA

    If the court were to find that states have no right to prosecute a crime the Feds could not prosecute, then simple pardons out of the Oval Office, and Mr. Trump’s family problems go away.

    • bmaz says:

      James – Welcome to Emptywheel! Comment often and get involved. As to that Hatch case, I have to admit I was not aware of it previously, so thank you.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Looks like a spot-on analysis of the situation. It’s surprising that this hasn’t been stated here more clearly before now, although I did learn on this site a while back that this case was coming up.  My point is that it seems deeply true that while “our side” (to use a sloppy shorthand) focus on facts, due process, and fairness with a fair amount of distraction on personalities, “they” focus quite clearly on the levers of power.  We look for truth and they look for power.  I do think we could better resist them if we could remember more clearly that this is ALL they care about and always the end goal of their words and actions. Pointing out their hypocrisy or becoming apoplectic over their unfairness is generally as much a waste of time as speculating about Trump’s thinking or “feelings”. Of course, they will lie, cheat, and steal.  Of course, they do not care two figs about democracy. I’m not sure how to flesh this thought out further, but I’ve been noticing it for a while now.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Precisely.  The Goopers, backed and personified by billionaire bucks, play a complex, detailed, persistent, ludicrously well-funded long game. They seek to control the fulcra and levers, all the bottlenecks.  They know the rest of the political geography will conform to whomever holds those.

        Dems lurch poll to poll, election to election, shackled to consultants, a leadership, and a pay-to-play system that sometimes favors the GOP’s priorities more than the nominally Democratic ones.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Orrin Ozymandias:

      ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.

      You are turning America into a desert, Ancient One.  Utah is beckoning:

      “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

      • Kick the darkness says:

        “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

        Hatch certainly looks decrepit enough to have sat in the rump parliament! And may the fortunes of our own country not go down the road of Cromwell’s  “cruel necessities”.

        I wasn’t thinking straight about the Cromwells when I first read this.  I was mis-remembering that Bannon equated himself with Oliver, but it was in fact Thomas.  Which sets up Trump as Henry VIII instead of Charles I, and sort of has a bearing on who eventually orders whose head cut off.  I guess both Cromwell’s end up losing their head, but in Oliver’s case it was posthumously, so he presumably did not care as much.

    • viget says:

      I read the Atlantic article reference by the tweet.  For the lawyers here, and I am not one, but can one be under “double jeopardy” of a crime if charged by the state after being prospectively pardoned by the President?  Meaning what if Mueller is just holding back charging on certain crimes such that even if the dual sovereign doctrine were to be overturned by this case, that state charges would not  be double jeopardy because the perp was never technically in jeopardy in the first place?

      Or is this where the “if you accept a pardon, you are tacitly admitting guilt to the crime” comes in?  Sort of a virtual guilty plea, if you will.

      Sorry if these are stupid questions.

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mark Judge, from a supposedly unknown Delaware beach house, to WaPo reporter: “How in the world did you find me?”

    Something tells me that Brett Kavanaugh is going to regret repeatedly saying, “Never,” in response to so many related questions.

    • Trip says:

      He has demonstrated he doesn’t want a fair process because he didn’t insist on a neutral investigation (which could clear him), he decided against tradition of previous SCOTUS candidates by appearing on Trump TV and only Trump TV with softball questions, and lastly, he repeated talking points rather than answering questions directly.

      Someone like that is looking only for personal advantage and not informing the citizenry who he really is. I know I’m being Captain Obvious, here, but it bears repeating. It also demonstrates that he only cares what the Republican party voters think. That’s a bad precedent for someone who needs to be open minded in the highest court, not a political operative hack judge.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        My daughter tells me all she heard on drive to work this morning was how the New Yorker hurt the opposition more than it helped, how it makes it seem more like a witch hunt.  Who knows who is applying this spin–I haven’t trusted NPR for a long time.  Still, spin or accurate reporting, it implies that I am in a bubble.

        The crisis stage of take-over looms.  The outcome is uncertain.

        Leonard Cohen: “I have seen the future, brother, it is murder”

        Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
        Won’t be nothing
        Nothing you can measure anymore
        The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
        Has crossed the threshold
        And it has overturned
        The order of the soul

        There’ll be the breaking of the ancient Western code
        Your private life will suddenly explode
        There’ll be phantoms
        There’ll be fires on the road
        And the white man dancing
        You’ll see your woman
        Hanging upside down
        Her features covered by her fallen gown
        And all the lousy little poets
        Coming round
        Tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson

          • Trip says:

            With an assist by Howard Kurtz.

            After Ariana Huffington went back to being a conservative, after using and abusing her nonpaid writers and cashing in for herself, Kurtz went to the dark side with Fox News.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I believe she sold HuffPost for about $300 million, much of it built on the backs of unpaid commentators and her general readership/clicks.

              Arianna being Arianna, she thinks she did it all herself.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Yes, the WH or some actually competent organization.

            A cursory examination of twitter looks like the full court press is on.  What has me seething right now is the timelessness of the strategies for sweeping rape aside, almost always effective locally, now being applied on the national level.

            “This accusation makes the victim look bad.”

            “This doesn’t prove anything.” (recurring comment)

            “Everybody makes mistakes.”

            “Since when was it illegal to drink?” (recurring comment)

            “You’re ruining a good man’s life.”

            It’s been played out millions of times, usually to good effect.

            Along with the rape apologists are the recurring lines referring to K’s stellar record as a judge, his unstinting praise from colleagues since the beginning of time, and that his drinking has nothing to do with his work.  Reminiscent of a likely troll on here the other day who purported not to like K but slipped in the remark that he is obviously well qualified, it’s just these other little nit picks.

            Karl Rove: “We create our own reality.”

            • bmaz says:

              Exactly. And there is not a chance in hell Trump and his WH will back off because he has the same issues in his past. It is all rather sickening.

          • orionATL says:


            if jane mayer says it, you just know there is tons more bad news baggage that goes with this kavanaugh story. no wonder snake grassley and mcconnell were trying to rush this thru the senate. they already knew the shit that filled that dossier.

            part of this story should focus on senator orin hatch hatching the ed whelan-crc p.r. firm debacle in an effort to defend kavanaugh with, you guessed it, FAKE NEWS.

            stephen colbert says it may not be a good thing to give a perv a job where he wears a robe every day.

        • Wm. Boyce says:

          “Who knows who is applying this spin–I haven’t trusted NPR for a long time.”

          I did hear Jane Mayer interviewed on NPR the other morning, and she gave a very clear explanation of their work in reporting this woman’s recollection. I think she said they had a man who was there corroborating much of what Ms. Ramirez recalled, and that he had no current connection to her. That’s good work.

        • Tracy says:

          Ramirez’s assertions are valuable in themselves, and as part of a bigger picture, as they totally align with an emerging pattern of blind-drunk, misogynistic milieu and behavior. Also, Collins was convinced enough to say that the SJC must hear from her, and reportedly the SJC has reached out to her for preliminary investigation (whatever that is). Just convincing any one R-Senator of anything that shifts this process is valuable.

          If another person comes forward, her story will be strengthened, too.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree.  K does not want a fair process now, any more than he wanted one during the Clinton investigation.  He wants it to favor Republicans full stop.

        Did you notice Kavanaugh’s shift of voice in that Faux Noise interview of the happy couple?  He is specific when talking about Dr. Ford, but not specific to Ford in his denial.  He avoids the more obvious flow of thought, as shown in this hypothetical restatement:

        “I accept that someone in her past might have sexually assaulted Dr. Ford.  But it wasn’t me.  I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone [while sober].”

        Kavanaugh’s construction misses a beat because he is careful not to say the italicized words.  It’s as if he’s trying to avoid a perjury rap.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            It’s a disconnect in his speech, which suggests a disconnect in his thinking.  Yes, the general denial logically includes Dr. Ford.  But the flow is wrong.

            Kavanaugh speaks directly about Ford and acknowledges that she might have been sexually assaulted at some point in her life.  He skips a beat, then makes a general denial that he has assaulted anyone, which includes Ford only indirectly, not specifically, but at one remove.  The normal flow would have been as I said above.

            Then, again, Kavanaugh also seems to have denied ever drinking to excess, which appears to be a whopper of Paul Bunyan proportions.

            • Fran of the North says:

              Now now!

              Don’t be besmirching the good reputation of Paul Bunyan! He’s one of the more respected tundra dwellers ’round here.

              ‘Step out the front door like a ghost, where no one notices the contrast of white on white.

              ‘And in between the moon and you, angels get a better view of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.’

            • Tracy says:

              Right, he said “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone” rather than “I never sexually assaulted Dr. Blasey Ford.” He doesn’t make the connection to her specifically. He’s parsing words b/c he’s been coached so specifically.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Yes. It’s the kind of quote you would want to avoid if you thought it would later be found to be incorrect.  I think that’s a bigger sinkhole than it appears on first hearing.

    • Tracy says:

      Right – and b/c while you may think in advance that you can determine how things will end up, you never know the actual import of something until it is said. I think we have a lot coming in the next few days and beyond as the revelations and testimonials come.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In another issue of national importance, debate in the US is so contorted that it has to be reminded by a foreigner of what else is at stake in the current environment:

    “US healthcare system is ‘morally wrong'”.

    • Thomasa says:

      I am presently in hospital in Barcelona for observation and investigation of possible blood clot in my heart. My wife and I tried to get an estimate of charges from the financial person. So far to no avail. I talked to the cardiologist about how to describe the problem in such a way as to not appear to be a preexisting condition. “What does it mean, Pre existing condition. I know what it means but why does it matter. “ At the end of that careful explanation she said “But that makes no sense.”

      My wife talked to her friend in healthcare management at the university they both have retired from who said “Not to worry Medicare will cover you for 100 days.” Then she sent a link to the relevant Medicare page.
      A happy ending to a very stressful day.

      So, yet another task for a Democratically controlled congress.

      • Thomasa98 says:

        I must correct my Medicare statement: Medicare does not cover foreign travel except in specific circumstances in Canada and Mexico.

  40. Trip says:

    So after ripping Dershowitz, Avenatti has his twitter set to private. (I was looking to see if his claims were legit on Kavanaugh)

    @AlanDersh What happened to you? You used to be revered and respected. You are now seen as nothing more than a Trump sycophant and a hack for the GOP & Fox News. Anytime they need someone to do their bidding, they trot you out. Those mar-a-lago invites & cookies must be amazing.

  41. Trip says:

    Trump seems odd (for Trump). He looks and sounds either completely sleep-deprived or medicated. Anyone else noticing this?

      • Trip says:

        @onwatch, You might be right about that element, but something is definitely ‘off’. I noticed this when he was questioned about Rosenstein too. He looks like hell, and the slow deliberative speech and expressions are different too. It’s like when someone is medicated, high or drunk and they have to concentrate strongly on getting words out. Even his words of anger are muted, slowed down or restrained to some degree.

        • Tom says:

          Perhaps he’s had one or more mini-strokes.   This is an obese 72-year-old man who eats a lot of junk/fast food and gets no exercise except his weekend golf games.   Plus, he’s under an increasing amount of stress.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Or the crisis has reached a tipping point–such as, need K on SC NOW, urgency to stop Mueller, Russia has given an ultimatum of some kind–at which they can’t afford to let Trump flail around publicly and kill things like he always does. He’s not been as clean-living as K, so the Don would probably be open to taking mild drugs in a safe environment.

  42. earlofhuntingdon says:

    President Donald Trump’s speech before the United Nations was profoundly pathetic.  Written presumably by the Stephen Millers in his orbit, one can taste its cut-and-paste flavor in Trump’s substitution of the economics of “globalism” with Trump’s isolationist “patriotism”. It was as coherent and nuanced as his daily menu, as statesmanlike as a Halloween pumpkin.

    That he read it unconvincingly and boringly goes without saying.  His long and inappropriate ending reference to the glory of God would not have pleased Her or his ethnically, religiously, and politically diverse audience.  But his audience was really himself, and the people not there: his fundamentalist American base.

  43. Yogarhythms says:

    EW thank you and I’m supporting your work. “ On Rosenstein we shall see…” Emotional weather report”/ TWaits, plays well under this historic week so clearly displayed; 1% values POWER and nothing else: gender, respect, honesty, integrity, dignity.

    The office of the Palace occupant wields absolute power and the lock step party vote for confirmation simultaneously removing RR is Hurricane of Emotion for Power.

  44. Manqueman says:

    1. I’m very impressed how the administration played the Times with the Rosenstein story. Inexplicably, my gut tells me that the reporting was limited to anonymous White House sources — one the best sources.

    2. On the other hand, this is Donald being too clever by half. Far better to let the investigation play through and find nothing directly involving Donald. But no, his cretinous, psychotic ego won’t allow that. What can really tarnish the Trump brand and implicate Donald and the three older children, specially Junior Mint, are state actions over which he has no control. Meanwhile…

    3. If a Saturday Night Massacre doesn’t create a blue tsunami in November, nothing will, ever. So, please, Donald, shut down the investigatio.

  45. Kick the darkness says:

    So, as I understand it, there was a leak to the NYT (“take this down Taggart”) about Rosenstein wanting to wear a wire to lay the case for invoking the 25th on Trump, maybe in jest, maybe not, maybe not even accurate.  Then some sort of discussions over the weekend.  Come Monday Rosenstein is expecting to be called up to resign or be fired; the DOJ even prepares a statement.  But Trump’s like “let’s talk about it on Thursday”.

    When/if Trump moved on the DOJ I was imagining it along the lines of, after another successful infrastructure week marked by new revelations of his underlying criminality, Trump is taking another well deserved tax payer holiday at one of his golf clubs, along with those in his coterie who egg on his worst impulses.  Twitter freakout, followed by axing Sessions, and then, through whatever intermediaries, Rosenstein.  Its clear Trump has come to hate Sessions.  If he was going to move against Rosenstein, why not just take care of Sessions at the same time?  The case, manufactured in whatever way, could serve as the excuse for the other.

    So it seems kind of funny, at least to me.  Is this really a move on Trump’s part?  If not, where is it coming from?

  46. Trip says:

    And here we go:
    Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress say they’ll force a vote on impeaching Rod Rosenstein if he refuses to testify this week about reports that he sought to secretly record the president

    “I do not believe doing nothing is okay when the guy who runs DOJ makes comments about taping the commander-in-chief,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview. “No matter what the context, it requires further investigation. The Judiciary Committee has an obligation to investigate.” Trump’s top conservative allies are ratcheting up pressure on House leaders to force a hearing. They’ve been privately pressing Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to arrange a public session with Rosenstein as quickly as possible. Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have reached out to Goodlatte repeatedly to attempt to schedule a hearing.


    • Rayne says:

      But does impeaching remove him from office? Does the GOP Senate still have to come with a 2/3rds vote to remove if the GOP House were able to come up with enough votes to impeach?

      Any time I see Jim Jordan talking about DOJ oversight in any way I see a man desperately trying to avoid his own personal exposure to prosecution.

  47. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This all seems much of a muchness, a standard preparation of the ground for a later firing that will seemingly have nothing to do with Trump, Trump protecting himself, or Trump viciously acting out against those whom he hates or is afraid of.

    Compare it with past corporate resignations, such as a former CEO of H-P, or former senior executives and general counsels of GM or Delphi. The executives depart with a fistful of dollars (to keep them quiet and to keep the executive wagons’ circled). But they depart at a remove in time and apparent causation from the reasons for their departures.

    That makes the departures appear routine and, most importantly, unrelated to the fuck ups that caused them. (Accountability, like competition, is for textbooks, but not for daily corporate life.) All in a standard HR day. Like tax lawyers and tax dodges, there are people who are paid gobsmacking sums to spend all day thinking these things up.

  48. Cicero101 says:

    It appears to matter whether Rosenstein resigns or is fired.

    “If the president can browbeat Rosenstein into resigning—or even plausibly misrepresent the firing as a resignation—Trump gains the power to bypass the Senate confirmation process under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. He can replace Rosenstein with any serving official previously confirmed by the Senate to any other job.”


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