Today we learned that back in December, Trump demanded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pledge his personal loyalty. This isn’t shocking; Trump did the same to former FBI Director James Comey. Nor is this necessarily newsworthy in and of itself; Rosenstein is too much of a professional to have caved on such a thing, yet he still has his job. Chalk it up to Trump committing yet another act of obstruction of justice that didn’t benefit him at all, but will help further incriminate him. But here’s the real story: why we’re now hearing about this.
It’s fair to assume that Rosenstein handled this by the book, just as Comey did: he took detailed notes about it in case he ever needed evidence, and he told some key people at the DOJ and FBI about it in case he ever needed witnesses. It’s impossible to believe that Rosenstein would now be leaking this information to the media himself, because he’s in charge of the ongoing investigation in question. That leaves us with one fairly obvious conclusion: someone at the FBI leaked this today.
This is a kick in Trump’s teeth in the court of public opinion, because it makes him look profoundly guilty. In practical terms this also makes it much harder for Trump to get away with trying to fire Rosenstein, because it frames any such attempt in much more sinister terms. But the real upshot is this: it’s just the beginning.
We’ve reached the point where the upper levels of the FBI – high enough up the chain to be privy to Rod Rosenstein’s conversations with Donald Trump – are now strategically leaking dirt to expose Trump’s criminality. This wouldn’t be appropriate under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Trump is trying to dismantle the FBI before it can finish investigating his treasonous crimes. He forced out the FBI Deputy Director this week, and now the FBI has declared war on him. More leaks are coming. This was just the warm up act.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report