We’re all scratching our heads about the many contradictions in the New York Times’ bombshell report, quickly confirmed by other publications, on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s interest in using the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump. Here, in no particular order, are five early reactions from our team to details that emerged this afternoon.
- Rosenstein apparently didn’t know that his May 2017 memo, attacking then-FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Clinton probe, would be used as the President’s sole reason for firing Comey. That’s… ummm… surprising.
- Matt Zapotosky, who co-wrote the Washington Post’s article confirming the New York Times’ reporting (meaning, at the very least, the Post reached out to knowledgeable sources who said the Times’ story was accurate), tweeted that this story was an instance of “bad blood btw two current/former law enforcement officials spilling into view w/ potentially huge consequences.” It’s unclear who he means — potentially former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Rosenstein. Remember, McCabe is still facing potential criminal prosecution for allegedly being less than forthright in the DOJ Inspector General’s investigation of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe.
- The source of these reports is anonymous. But reports from ABC News and the Washington Post lean very heavily on McCabe’s contemporaneous memos as the source for these revelations.
- There is a limited pool of people who have access to the McCabe memos and who could be sources for these stories, including: the DOJ inspector general, other senior DOJ officials, prosecutors probing McCabe, McCabe himself, and McCabe’s lawyers. McCabe’s team denies it was the source.
- Trump doesn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting on normbreaking himself. This is an example of the ways in which Trump’s unprecedented bizarreness is causing damaging ripples through government. Others — in this case, apparently, Rosenstein — are reacting in ways that are themselves deeply damaging to institutions.