Details of a Republican memo casting the U.S. Department of Justice in a negative light have come to light in a new New York Times report, and it looks like a potential major step towards some shuffling within the DOJ ranks. According to the report, the memo includes discussion of how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved the continuation of surveillance of Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump. Republicans have been saying how the DOJ has used improper methods to carry out surveillance on Americans with the latest details claiming that Rosenstein wrongfully allowed this continue. President Trump could very well use this as an excuse to fire Rosenstein. What would happen next seems pretty clear.
A lot of this seems to stem from the application for a FISA warrant stemmed at least in part from the notorious unconfirmed Russia dossier. Republicans reportedly believe that when federal officials applied for the court’s permission to conduct surveillance of Page, whom they believed to be a Russian agent, they didn’t disclose the extent to which they were basing their cause on unverified information. Likewise, when Rosenstein authorized the continuation of the surveillance, he too could have acted improperly.
Rosenstein is currently the Acting Attorney General regarding the investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter. In the role of Acting AG for the probe, Rosenstein has the authority to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but he has gone on the record saying he would not do so without good cause. With buzz that Rosenstein may have acted improperly in allowing the continued surveillance of Page, that could be enough for President Trump to fire Rosenstein, with at least a semblance of an excuse.
With Rosenstein out of the picture, that would clear the way for his replacement to come in and echo GOP concerns of an anti-Trump agenda within the Justice Department as a whole, as well as Mueller’s investigation, and oust Mueller himself. This would be based on a narrative that has been pushed by Trump supporters who most recently pointed to text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and DOJ lawyer Lisa Page, that included anti-Trump sentiment. The messages also contained what Republicans believe to be indications that Strzok, who once served on Mueller’s team, doubted the validity of the investigation from the beginning, as well as a pro-Hillary Clinton leanings within the DOJ. While Mueller removed Strzok from the investigation after learning of this, Republicans could still claim that the investigation was tainted all along.
If Rosenstein is fired in the wake of this GOP memo, I would be shocked if Mueller lasted for much longer.
[Image via fbi.gov]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.