The Knives Are Out for Rosenstein. And Now There's a Plan – and a Path.
Conservatives in the House of Representatives are pushing forward with a plan to get rid of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, even after he announced Friday afternoon the indictment of 12 Russian government officials for hacking during the 2016 election. Those indictments were the result of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, which Rosenstein oversees.
"House conservatives are preparing a new push to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to three conservative Capitol Hill sources — putting the finishing touches on an impeachment filing even as Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election," Politico reports Friday.
"Democrats contend Republicans’ fixation on Rosenstein is really an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, who reports to Rosenstein and has been making inroads in his investigation of the Russian election interference plot."
This time, if they're successful in ousting Rosenstein, either via impeachment, firing, or holding him in contempt of Congress as a first step, it might mean the end of the Mueller probe.
Right now, Rosenstein is the only person who directly can fire Robert Mueller.
Should Rosenstein be removed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could not fire Mueller, because he has recused himself from the Russia probe.
But the person under Rod Rosenstein could fire Mueller.
And just Wednesday Senate Republicans, by a 51-48 vote, confirmed Brian Benczkowski to become the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Should Rosenstein be fired, Benczkowski could be promoted to become Deputy Attorney General. And that makes Rosenstein's job less secure.
Benczkowski, prior to joining the DOJ, recently worked in private practice, and also worked for far right wing Republicans. As an attorney he represented Alfa Bank, which has disturbing ties to the Trump organization and the Trump campaign.
Alfa Bank, one of the largest banks in Russia, has been under investigation by the DOJ.
"Questions surrounding Alfa Bank first arose in 2016 when a group of computer scientists raised concerns about Internet records that showed that Alfa Bank servers repeatedly looked up the unique internet address of a Trump Organization computer server in the United States," CNN reports.
Democrats, in addition to raising concerns over his ties to a Russian bank under investigation, have expressed concern that Benczkowski simply does not have the credentials for the job.
And, as Politico just reported, "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has made clear that he doesn't consider Rosenstein out of the woods yet."
Chairman Goodlatte is largely responsible for Thursday's disastrous hearing featuring FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok.
"Goodlatte said he blamed Rosenstein for limiting Strzok’s ability to reveal details of his work," Politico adds.
“Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops,” Goodlatte says. “Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty,” he claimed Thursday, after Strzok refused to answer several questions, based on direction from the FBI.
The knives are out for Rosenstein. And now there's a path.
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