The Senate has predictably confirmed Donald Trump’s new Department of Justice nominee Brian Benczkowski along party lines. Every Democrat voted “no” but it wasn’t enough to stop the confirmation. Benczkowski worked for Russia’s Alfa Bank, which is allegedly tied up in the Trump-Russia scandal, making his nomination instantly scandalous. Trump clearly thinks Benczkowski is going to help get him and his Trump-Russia co-conspirators off the legal hook. But here’s the thing: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seems to have no problem with it.
Rod Rosenstein is in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation, and he’s the second highest ranking person at the Department of Justice; Benczkowski would be working under him. Rosenstein has proven himself to be a straight shooter with no willingness to help bail Trump out of his scandals. For reasons only known for sure to him, Rosenstein has signed off on this hire. Now we’re going to find out what Rosenstein is made of.
Benczkowski‘s ties to Alfa Bank are disconcerting, and objectively speaking, should have been enough to disqualify him. However, with corrupt criminal and prisoner-in-waiting Donald Trump currently occupying the Oval Office, these are not normal times, and the playing field looks very different. Rosenstein has decided not to even bother objecting to the Benczkowski hire, meaning that he knows something we don’t. Has he already looked into Benczkowski and determined that his ties to Russia aren’t malicious? Is he banking on the notion that he can outmaneuver anything Benczkowski might try to pull?
There are two things to keep in mind here. First, Rod Rosenstein has been willing to cave to Donald Trump on a number of superficial things, just to keep Trump sated, so the Trump-Russia probe can stay on track. This could be yet another one of those instances. Second, back when Trump hired Rosenstein, he thought he was hiring someone who would be personally loyal, simply because Rosenstein is a Republican. Trump thinks Benczkowski will protect him, but Trump keeps guessing wrong on these things. In any case, Rosenstein seems to be betting on his own ability to outsmart Trump, and we’re betting on Rosenstein.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report