Rod Rosenstein Does Sergeant Shultz Redux; Lindsey Graham Whiffs
In the late ’60s TV show, “Hogan’s Heroes,” there was a character, Sergeant Schultz who became a symbol in American culture for someone playing at stupid when obviously they are not. In the show, as recounted by Wikipedia, the German guard Schultz constantly encountered evidence that the inmates of his POW camp were planning mayhem, and feigned ignorance with the catchphrase, “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!” (or, more commonly as the series went on, “I know nothing, nothing!”). Such was former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s testimony, in general, before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a much-anticipated appearance Wednesday.
When he wasn’t pulling his Sergeant Schultz act, Rosenstein was blaming the FBI, for the demonstrably illegal jihad and coup conducted against candidate Donald Trump, and the Trump presidency. Specifically, Rosenstein fingered former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as if McCabe and the FBI had gone rogue and Department of Justice and Rosenstein were not supervising the entire fiasco all along, which, of course, they were. He admitted that he conducted no independent investigation, other than what the FBI had told him, in moving to appoint a Special Counsel.
Otherwise, Rosenstein sought to defend the indefensible, claiming that the Mueller appointment was legit because it circumvented McCabe’s continued handling of the Trump “investigation,” that the investigation was legitimate, and that the gross illegalities discovered by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and AG Barr had the benefit of hindsight. McCabe, Rosenstein lamented, had not been “candid” with him. McCabe shot back, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, that Rosenstein was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee and had been fully briefed on the investigation, including then-FBI Director James Comey’s efforts to set the President up for an obstruction charge.
Rosenstein was responsible for appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller after it had already been determined, as of January of 2017, that there was no substance to the investigation Mueller subsequently conducted, beginning in May of 2017, concerning Donald Trump’s alleged 2016 collusion with the Russians. Rosenstein sought Mueller’s appointment after then lead domestic coup plotter, FBI Director James Comey was fired by Donald Trump in May 2017. While denying that he offered to wear a wire to record the President, or to organize the cabinet for impeachment, as claimed by McCabe and others, Rosenstein admitted that the Mueller team wrote their own “scope” memos as to the parameters of their investigation. Rosenstein simply approved what they wrote rather than actively supervising them as required by the special counsel regulation. This was, perhaps, the most important admission of the day.
For the next two years, the President was endlessly defamed as the result of an investigation, which had already been determined to be illegitimate at its inception and which resulted in unlawful convictions of Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone, and others, and the ruthless legal harassment of any official associated with Donald Trump who refused to lie and give Mueller what he wanted.
Rosenstein also personally signed FISA warrants targeting former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, when it was already apparent that Page was absolutely innocent of any wrongdoing. Rosenstein said that had he known what is now publicly available, he would not have signed the Carter Page FISA warrant. He admitted that he had not fully read the warrant. As one wag recounted this part of his testimony, he now regretted signing a warrant which he never even read.
Despite all of this, committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham opined that he never believed that Rosenstein was out to “get” the President. Graham also toed the Washington consensus line that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections when, in fact, the proof now available shows that no such interference ever happened. One relative moment of levity occurred, as George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley points out, when Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono got her wires crossed, yet again, and got Rosenstein to admit, repeatedly, that there was no evidence whatsoever of a crime by Donald Trump. The Democratic line all day had been that the entire legal jihad against Trump was legitimate, that the hearing was being conducted to air the conspiracy theories of Trump supporters, and that attention was more appropriately focused on the George Floyd case which they jawboned endlessly.