Muftic: If Trump can’t fire him, impeach Rosenstein?
May 7, 2018
If Donald Trump cannot fire Rod Rosenstein because it would look too much like obstruction of justice, then the House Freedom Caucus is trying to impeach Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, who oversees the Mueller Russian investigation.
Their impeachment attempt begins this week.
The House Freedom Caucus is clearly trying to obstruct justice by crippling the Mueller investigation to oust his boss, Rosenstein, in hopes that a Trump loyalist would take his place and rein in the Mueller investigation. Clever. There is no way to impeach the House members for their obstructing justice.
At least three times since the first of the year, Donald Trump asserted he wanted to fire Rod Rosenstein. However, a handful of GOP senators warned him that could lead to his own impeachment for obstructing justice, much like the Nixon-Watergate impeachment, when Nixon fired the investigators , special counsels, and Department of Justice officials investigating his connection and cover up.
Why is Rosenstein such an object of this attempt? Rosenstein is the key player. He is the one who can fire Mueller and Mueller's charge is to give a report to Rosenstein who has the power to decide whether to refer the report to Congress for their decision and power to impeach a president.
Since Donald Trump does not have the power to fire Mueller directly, he needs to replace Rosenstein with a loyalist who will either restrict Mueller's probe or fire him. To Trump's rescue comes the Freedom Caucus impeachment attempt.
Both Rosenstein's boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and he were appointed by Donald Trump. Both are Republicans. Sessions has threatened to resign if the president fired Rosenstein. Sessions heads the Department of Justice. Sessions recused himself because he himself had unreported conversations with the Russians during the 2016 campaign so that the task of overseeing the investigations fell to Rosenstein, next in line. In turn, the DOJ/FBI had already been engaged in investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 elections since the summer of 2016.
When Trump fired the FBI director James Comey, allegedly for not swearing loyalty to him or for refusing to cooperate in the Russian connection investigations, Rosenstein hired a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to investigate whether obstruction of justice, conspiracy (collusion) with the Russians to fix the elections, or other crimes were found to have been committed. Mueller's investigators are the FBI, IRS and intelligence services, and any number of other federal investigators led by prosecutors in three jurisdictions. Whatever happens to Mueller, or Rosenstein, these other investigations could continue. So why bother?
A political drama indeed will be all that will result. The merits of the arguments deserve an entire separate column, but the politics of it are clear. The chances that the Senate would provide them with vote needed to oust Rosenstein will not happen because there are not enough GOP senators. This is purely a political move geared to gin up the Trump base before the 2018 elections or to paint the Department of Justice full of non-Trump loyalists that are so prejudiced against Trump that any findings and reports would have no credibility.
In public addresses made to lawyer groups last week, Rod Rosenstein is holding firm in his support of the rule of law and called the House attempt extortion: "…We are going to do what is required by the rule of law and any kind of threats anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job."
For more, including arguments for impeachment, see http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.