The Deputy Attorney General Exudes The Kind Of Quiet Confidence We’d Come To Expect From Leaders Until The Chaos Of The Last Year And A Half
Rosenstein and F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for one of the weirdest hearings we’ve ever witnessed. The two Trump appointees were heckled by Trump allies for about 90 minutes. Democrats cheered the pair. That’s the polar opposite of the way these things usually go.
And while President Trump frequently calls Democrats hysterical, Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan seems like a walking, talking definition of the word when he questions Rosenstein, who more than holds his own. Click on the photo to watch:
You see, Republicans on the Committee don’t think Justice and the F.B.I. are complying quickly or completely enough with their requests to view documents related to the Clinton email and Russia investigations. And also aren’t moving quickly enough to wrap up the investigation itself.
The F.B.I. Director argues his agency has already turned over 880,000 pages (a number Committee members did not dispute), and has 100 employees working on it more than full time.
So while the Committee has the right to view these hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, they’re deliberately moving to slow down an investigation, while simultaneously complaining it’s moving too slowly. But we think that’s part of the plan.
They’re also keying in on what they view as a smoking gun: a text exchange between F.B.I. Investigator Peter Strzok (who was long ago removed from the case) and Lisa Page a former F.B.I. lawyer with whom he was having an affair. It’s this one:
They wonder why it didn’t turn up until the recent Inspector General’s report.
South Carolina Rep, Trey Gowdy, who isn’t seeking reelection, didn’t even bother to ask Rosenstein or Wray any questions. He just lit out into a rant that took up his entire time. We do think he does a good job of clearly laying out the conspiracy theory Trump and most of the members on this Committee appear to adhere to. (Gowdy’s version is a bit looser than Trump’s: he actually believes Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election, unlike Trump who continues to imply he believes Russia when it says it didn’t.)
“Whatever you got, finish it the hell up“, concludes Gowdy. (If you find that Gowdy starts making sense to you, remember he investigated Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the disaster in Benghazi for 2 1/2 years, so his assertion that the 1 1/2 year old Russia investigation has gone on for too long is a bit rich.)
Rosenstein’s response? About as simple and common sense as you can get: “I’ve heard suggestions that we should just close the investigation. I think the best thing that we can do is finish it appropriately.”
After the hearing, as part 2 of a highly orchestrated day, Republicans took to the floor of the House and voted to order the Department of Justice to “fully comply” with the requests and subpoenas of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
Every single Republican who voted was in favor, every single Democrat voted against.
Since it’s completely non-binding its impact could be anything from nothing, to laying the cornerstone of an impeachment proceeding against Rosenstein. Though it’s not likely he’d be convicted by the Senate, it could serve the purpose of slowing things down even more, giving Republicans in Congress more to complain about.
Meanwhile, Rosenstein keeps driving down a lonesome highway with his hand firmly on the wheel as a bunch of clowns continually try to rear-end him. We may not end up agreeing with what he finds, or what he chooses to release to the public, or what action he takes, or doesn’t take. Who knows? What we do know is that his comportment and aplomb is something severely lacking in Washington these days, and it’s good to have an example and reminder of how real people operate.