After spending all year trying to walk a tightrope between lying and denying during his various instances of Trump-Russia testimony, Attorney General Jeff Sessions finally blew it on Thursday. He refused to answer a particular question which opened the door for a new line of criminal inquiry against himself and Donald Trump. It’s swiftly resulted in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gearing up for public testimony which will fire a broadside into both Sessions and Trump.
Sessions testified privately before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday. This was the result, according to the committee’s ranking member Adam Schiff: “I asked the attorney general, specifically, did POTUS ever take any action that you believed—instruct you to take any action, that you believed would hinder the Russia investigation? And he declined to answer that question.” This non-answer led another Democrat on the committee, Jim Himes, to state the view during the Rachel Maddow show on Thursday evening that non-answer represented a criminal act on Sessions’ part. Then the committee made its big move.
Himes stated that either Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should force Jeff Sessions to answer the question. Immediately afterward, the House Intel Committee announced that Rosenstein, who has legal jurisdiction over the Trump-Russia investigation because Sessions long ago recused himself, is being called in to publicly testify about the matter. Here’s where it gets incredibly dicey for Sessions, and for Trump.
During those public hearings in mid December, the Democrats on the committee will ask Rod Rosenstein to order Jeff Sessions to answer whether Trump asked him to interfere with the Russia investigation. Rosenstein knows this is coming. That means he’ll move to protect himself in advance by sitting down with Sessions and forcing him to answer the question. As a result, Rosenstein will likely reveal Sessions’ answer during those public hearings. We know Sessions will give up Trump to save himself, so we know what the answer is going to be. Get your popcorn. By the way, Robert Mueller will also be watching those hearings.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report