On Thursday, Fox News reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein received prior notice of former Donald Trump private attorney Michael Cohen’s plea deal before Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker did.
This reminds me of a tradition the Army observed when there’s a change in command: The departing commanding officer is typically expected to physically leave his office and the organization to give the incoming commander space to assume command. Otherwise, the temptation for subordinates to “check in” with their old commander can seriously undermine the transition’s effectiveness.
Rosenstein seems like an affable guy who continuously demonstrates his wickedly dry humor with ironic speeches claiming fealty to the rule of law. But his mere presence in the Department of Justice is now demonstrably undermining its change in leadership. That the special counsel first checks in the deputy attorney general before the AG proves Rosenstein is still in charge.
In the complicated four-dimensional chess board of Washington DC, the results of a Senate election in Mississippi and President Trump’s trip to the G-20 summit in Argentina both affect Rosenstein’s strategic position. The recent media storm of “new” Trump-Russia collusion stories carpet-bombed the airwaves within hours of the Cohen plea deal.
Of course, this all happened hours before the president’s now-canceled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I’m sure that’s all a coincidence. Just like it was a coincidence that Rosenstein timed the last big Trump-Russia indictments days before the president met with Putin in the 2018 summit. Is the deputy attorney general in charge of American foreign policy?
I don’t play four-dimensional chess. But it seems to me that when a subordinate undermines the president, defies Congress, flouts the rule of law, and now bucks the chain of command, it’s time to reach onto the chess board and relocate Rosenstein’s office to McMurdo Research station in Antarctica. If I were president, Rosenstein would share a desk with Bruce Ohr in their new Antarctic empire. Allow me to offer a very incomplete list of justifications to reassign Rosenstein to the polar tundra.