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Wolf Blitzer analyzes Rosenstein's 'so-called denial'

CNN's Wolf Blitzer discusses the statement released by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the New York Times reported that he discussed secretly recording President Trump in 2017 and discussed plans to use the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

Posted: Sep 23, 2018 4:28 AM
Updated: Sep 23, 2018 4:28 AM

The New York Times has just published a blockbuster article (citing anonymous sources) reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested to other officials within the FBI and Justice Department that he should secretly tape President Donald Trump, and discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rosenstein denies the Times account, and former officials say it sounds like something Rosenstein would joke about rather than seriously suggest But the article, combined with Bob Woodward's new behind-the-scenes book, "Fear," and the anonymous Times op-ed described as written by a high-level official claiming that a secret "resistance" inside the administration was keeping Trump in check, adds to the already compelling evidence that Trump's White House is out of control.

Even Trump's closest advisers apparently don't have confidence that the commander in chief can be trusted to handle the job.

For critics of the administration, Rosenstein has emerged as a hero.

Rosenstein has appeared to be resolute in protecting the integrity of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He has not allowed the President's incessant attacks to shake his resolve, occasionally pushing back on ones that have been made on him. His supporters believe that Rosenstein has been the only thing preventing an enraged President from shutting down Mueller's team of legal eagles.

Yet the Times article also brings back the question of what exactly these officials think they are accomplishing. While some Americans who are unsettled by Trump's antics might draw comfort from believing that "adults" in the room are keeping him under control, the Times now reminds us how much silence there has been from those in the know and how complicit these officials have been in propping up an administration they don't think is viable.

Rosenstein seems to know that President Trump cannot be trusted to handle sensitive information. He wrote a memo critical of how the former FBI Director James Comey had handled the Hillary Clinton investigation, but was reportedly shocked when Trump publicly used his work to support his decision to fire Comey.

And he knows better than anyone else how President Trump has been willing to mount an all-out assault on the legitimacy of law enforcement institutions. He has watched the President discredit him, discredit Mueller, discredit Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and discredit anyone who poses a threat to him. The President has played fast and loose with the facts as he has spread false information through his Twitter feed.

But Rosenstein has chosen to remain part of this administration anyway. After allegedly being so upset with how President Trump handled the Clinton memo, he should have understood the risks of producing any kind of work for Trump given how it could be misused.

There have also been several occasions when Rosenstein chose to appease the Freedom Caucus, Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, rather than stand up to them. He allowed Republican legislators to review unredacted FBI documents about the Russia investigation and he has been responsive to Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, even as they move to impeach him. In other words, with President Trump and with the Freedom Caucus, Rosenstein has tried to straddle the center when dealing with political leaders who have no interest in rational governance.

Now the revelations about Rosenstein threaten to give Trump the very ammunition that he has been looking for to purge the Justice Department. What is the likelihood that he will use this story, even while denying its veracity, to declare that Rosenstein has been plotting against him and can't be trusted to oversee an investigation into the administration?

It didn't take Donald Trump Jr. long to tweet out: "Shocked!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realDonaldTrump."

Rosenstein, who has done more than almost anyone to try to protect the separation of the Department of Justice from an aggressive President, might end up being the rationale for Trump to move forward with his own version of the Saturday Night Massacre.

The Times article appears to give further evidence that reasonable and dutiful White House officials who fear this President but refuse to say so publicly, remain part of the problem. They give credibility to the White House and help to mask the threats that the nation faces from the commander in chief.

If the private fears that we keep hearing about are accurate, it is time for these officials to air their views more publicly. The elections this November will determine the balance of power in Congress. By working in the shadows and keeping dramatic observations to themselves, even the most well-meaning officials become part of the apparatus that insulates the Trump presidency.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 498560

Reported Deaths: 9939
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34150535
DeSoto31916399
Hinds31878624
Jackson24352379
Rankin21928388
Lee15450235
Madison14547279
Jones13789241
Forrest13428250
Lauderdale11944315
Lowndes10966185
Lamar10491135
Pearl River9454237
Lafayette8462138
Hancock7703126
Washington7371157
Oktibbeha7118130
Monroe6740174
Warren6656176
Pontotoc6620102
Neshoba6613206
Panola6466131
Marshall6398132
Bolivar6268146
Union596794
Pike5794152
Alcorn5646101
Lincoln5421134
George494979
Scott471198
Tippah466081
Prentiss464881
Leflore4631144
Itawamba4605105
Adams4577119
Tate4553109
Copiah445692
Simpson4423116
Yazoo440386
Wayne438572
Covington427894
Marion4222107
Sunflower4217104
Coahoma4127104
Leake407687
Newton381079
Grenada3700108
Stone358764
Tishomingo358091
Attala330589
Jasper328565
Winston313491
Clay306775
Chickasaw297867
Clarke290694
Calhoun278145
Holmes267287
Smith262450
Yalobusha232847
Tallahatchie225851
Walthall217763
Greene216048
Lawrence211440
Perry204855
Amite204055
Webster201845
Noxubee185940
Montgomery179356
Jefferson Davis170942
Carroll168238
Tunica159039
Benton147538
Kemper141341
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131637
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106328
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 814363

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1141131910
Mobile722941323
Madison52048686
Shelby37315341
Baldwin37098540
Tuscaloosa34973599
Montgomery33996725
Lee23158240
Calhoun22168470
Morgan20675372
Etowah19770496
Marshall18258300
Houston17314405
St. Clair15924337
Cullman15333290
Limestone15239198
Elmore15095284
Lauderdale14163294
Talladega13728272
DeKalb12575259
Walker11096366
Blount10104174
Autauga9904146
Jackson9795180
Coffee9182189
Dale8866181
Colbert8794200
Tallapoosa7045195
Escambia6747127
Covington6688179
Chilton6595160
Russell626358
Franklin5936105
Chambers5562142
Marion4960126
Dallas4897199
Clarke473482
Pike4721105
Geneva4564126
Winston4478101
Lawrence4269117
Bibb421786
Barbour356075
Marengo334189
Monroe330662
Randolph327763
Butler324894
Pickens314082
Henry311265
Hale309487
Cherokee300557
Fayette291079
Washington251151
Cleburne247058
Crenshaw243775
Clay240867
Macon230762
Lamar218146
Conecuh185752
Coosa179038
Lowndes174161
Wilcox167838
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125844
Choctaw87027
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