Earlier today we speculated that following the report that Rod Rosenstein had personally approved the raid on Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, that Trump would likely seek to terminate the Deputy AG, especially after the NYT’s report that on Monday night Trump had engaged in an angry public tirade that continued in private at the White House “as the president fumed about whether he should fire Mr. Rosenstein.” The NYT also said that last night, the president lashed out at Mr. Rosenstein for having “signed a FISA warrant,” in reference to the role Rosenstein played in authorizing the wiretap of a Trump associate in the Russia inquiry.
Now, it is CNN’s turn to double down on the speculation, with a report that Trump is considering firing Rod Rosenstein, “a move that has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the President’s personal lawyer.”
Such an action could potentially further Trump’s goal of trying to put greater limits on special counsel Robert Mueller.
Terminating Rosenstein is just one of the contemplated options in the aftermath of the Cohen raid: Trump could also fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions CNN reports, even though Rosenstein is his most likely target.
To be sure, it won’t be the first time Trump has come close to terminating the Deputy Attorney General: last summer Trump also came close to firing Rosenstein, but instead he ordered Robert Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order according to the NYT, which also reported that in December Trump told advisers Mueller’s investigation needed to be shut down following the launch of several probes aimed at Trump’s financial estates; he later backed down.
Several months later, Trump once again feels emboldened as his legal advisers are reportedly telling him they now have a stronger case against Rosenstein.
They believe Rosenstein crossed the line in what he can and cannot pursue. And they consider him conflicted since he is a potential witness in the special counsel’s investigation because he wrote the memo that justified firing former FBI Director James Comey. The legal advisers also believe they have successfully argued to the American public that the FBI is tainted and think they can make the same case against Rosenstein.
What about firing Mueller? On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump “certainly believes” he has the authority to dismiss the Special Counsel, although according to most legal experts that is largely a Rosenstein prerogative: the Deputy AG appointed Mueller; only he can fire him.
For now, Trump is getting substantial pushback from Congressional Republicans who fear firing Rosenstein or Mueller would throw the Trump presidency into crisis, jeopardise the midterm elections and unleash a constitutional crisis.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are preparing for that possibility and huddled Tuesday to talk about what would happen if Trump fired Rosenstein or Sessions. The Democrats discussed immediately calling for document preservation and how to press Republicans to join them.
Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that firing Rosenstein would achieve the President’s goal of containing Mueller and his probe: “Rosenstein’s successor overseeing the special counsel’s investigation could follow a similar path.”
But ultimately the decision whether to fire Rosenstein may not come from Trump at all, but from lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who as the NYT reported earlier, was invited to have dinner with Trump at the White House tonight, following the Harvard Law professors accusations that the DOJ violated Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s rights when it seized his documents on Monday.
Some news – Dershowitz has been at the White House for part of today as Trump seeks his input, and he’s supposed to have dinner with the president tonight, per WH sources
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 10, 2018
In response to the Cohen raid, Dershowitz called the act a “dangerous day” for “lawyer-client relations.”
“If this were Hillary Clinton [having her lawyer’s office raided], the ACLU would be on every TV station in America jumping up and down,” he said.
“The deafening silence of the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling.”
Which means that Trump will likely rely on the legal opinion of Dershowitz – who has also been a vocal critic of Mueller’s investigation from the beginning – whether or not to fire Rosenstein, Sessions and/or Mueller.
We should know the president’s decision roughly around the time bombs start flying over Syria.
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