It’s been a while since we could really check in on all things Russia Probe, given the slow-down before the midterm elections and weeks of tense, wall-to-wall coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh-U.S. Supreme Court drama.
Bloomberg published on Wednesday morning a status update on Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, namely that according to their sources, Mueller is “close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice.” More importantly, these “explosive aspects” are expected to go public after November midterms, to no one’s surprise.
What was a little bit jarring, however, were the repeated details that Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein, the man who appointed Mueller as special counsel, has been urging Mueller to wrap up the investigation.
It’s impossible to ignore that the only reason Rosenstein wasn’t talked about more was that the Kavanaugh-Dr. Christine Blasey Ford hearings completely took over the news cycle. Lest we forget, the Friday before that Sept. 27 hearing, the New York Times ran a story claiming that Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump and that the DAG discussed invoking the 25th Amendment in an effort to remove Trump from office.
Rosenstein denied it all and the president was evidently furious about it. The following Monday, it seemed all but certain that Rosenstein would be fired or resign from his post and there was much confusion over this. Eventually, it was learned that neither of these things occurred and that Trump and Rosenstein would be meeting as soon as possible but not too soon.
It was decided that the Rosenstein-Trump meeting would occur on the same day as the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing. That didn’t happen. Trump and Rosenstein did meet on Air Force One for “roughly 30 minutes” on Oct. 8 and Rosenstein emerged with his job intact. Trump said the conversation was “great” and that he had no plans to can his DAG.
It’s now October 17, nine days after that meeting with the president on Air Force One that we know next to nothing about. What we know is that Trump said “We just had a very nice talk. We actually get along.”
Lo and behold, Rosenstein is reportedly “pressing” Mueller to wrap up the Russia investigation. Here’s one relevant paragraph from the Bloomberg story:
Rosenstein has made it clear that he wants Mueller to wrap up the investigation as expeditiously as possible, another U.S. official said. The officials gave no indications about the details of Mueller’s conclusions. Mueller’s office declined to comment for this story.
That’s certainly something that would make Rosenstein and Trump get along. “Wrapping up” the Mueller probe also happens to be something Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have called for time and again.
Also of note, on the very same day we’re hearing about Rosenstein pushing toward to finish line, the Department of Justice released the DAG’s keynote remarks at the Federal Inspector General Community’s 21st Annual Awards Ceremony.
One of the topics Rosenstein covered was “leakers,” a subject that is also near and dear to the president’s heart, especially in the context of the Mueller Probe, the FBI and so on.
“Disclosing non-public, sensitive information you learn as a government employee may jeopardize an investigation or case; prejudice a defendant’s rights; or unfairly damage a person’s reputation. It also can violate federal laws, employee non-disclosure agreements, and individual privacy rights. In some cases, it may put a witness or law enforcement officer in danger,” Rosenstein said. “Inspectors General appropriately encourage whistleblowers to come forward, but it is important to make clear that there are lawful ways to report wrongdoing, either to agency supervisors or to internal watchdogs, without making improper disclosures.”
“Those leaks undermine public confidence and harm innocent people. At the Department of Justice, we revised our operations manual to emphasize the duty of confidentiality,” he added. “Transparency is often appropriate in government, but I encourage you to work with your agencies to help them follow the rules and honor confidentiality obligations when required by law.”
Rooting out leakers and wrapping up the Mueller Probe? What exactly did President Trump and Rosenstein discuss on Air Force One?
[Image via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.