It's James Baker's turn to throw Rosenstein under a bus

John Solomon is reporting that, according to James Baker in his recent House testimony, that business about Rosenstein maybe wearing a wire against Trump was no joke – or at least not from the perspective of the FBI.

Baker told lawmakers he wasn't in the meeting that McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in which the subject came up.  But he did have firsthand conversations with McCabe and the FBI lawyer assigned to McCabe, Lisa Page, about the issue.

"As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed," said a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation.  "It was no laughing matter for the FBI."

Solomon is properly circumspect about what might be behind Baker's statements – after all, this could be simple truth-telling, or it could be payback for Rosenstein's cooperation with Trump in recent weeks.  It remains possible, even likely, that Rosenstein wanted nothing to do with McCabe's idea of recording President Trump and seeking to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, no matter what his personal views on Trump.  On the other hand, the FBI leadership – knowing what their criminal jeopardy was should Trump become aware of their shenanigans during the 2016 election – doubtless saw this as a life-and-death matter – for them.  It wouldn't be for Rosenstein, although Rosenstein went on to create his own problems for himself.

Solomon rightly stresses the extraordinary implications of all this (emphasis added):

Baker's story lays bare an extraordinary conversation in which at least some senior FBI officials thought it within their purview to try to capture the president on tape and then go to the president's own Cabinet secretaries, hoping to persuade the senior leaders of the administration to remove the president from power. ...

I doubt this is the power that Congress intended to be exercised when it created the FBI a century ago, or the circumstances in which the authors of the 25th Amendment imagined a president's removal could be engineered.

This wasn't a president who was incapacitated at the time.  He was fully exercising his powers – but in a way the FBI leadership did not like.

And that makes the FBI's involvement in the tape-record-then-dump-Trump conversations overtly political – even if Rosenstein believed the whole idea was farcical.

Obviously, the Deep State, one way or another, is very unhappy with Rosenstein at this point.  Trump has complete leverage over Rosenstein and so is willing to protect him – he may yet prove useful – but Rosenstein would be well advised to look both ways before crossing any streets.

ADDENDUM: It's seems apparent that the meeting of Rosenstein and Scott Schools from the DoJ with the FBI's Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page was in fact a strategy session.  It was intended to address – at a minimum – how to deal with the new president or, more likely, how to hamstring him.  What came out of that meeting was not DAG Rosenstein wearing a wire, but it was a Rod Rosenstein – who for all matters involving President Trump was actually the attorney general (due to the Sessions recusal) – who not only hid from Trump the fact that the FBI was conspiring against him, but also was willing to use fraudulent means to occupy Trump legally and continue to spy on him through FISA.

MORE: IBD has an interesting editorial: "Did Hillary Clinton Direct Deep State's Trump Investigation?"  The basic idea is straightforward: none of the FBI abuses and crimes would have occurred but for the Hillary Clinton campaign's involvement.  The editorial goes into a fair amount of detail, but it is heavily based on the revelation by James Baker, general counsel of the FBI, that Baker received information relevant to the Carter Page FISA directly from the lawyer for the DNC and the Clinton campaign, who was paying Fusion GPS: Michael Sussman, of Perkins Coie.  Baker accepted this information knowing where Sussman was coming from.  (See "James Baker Identifies Another Source behind the FISA Application.")  Bottom line: All of this, pre-election, was a Democrat operation.  It happened; it was illegal and fraudulent.

But Rod Rosenstein has been catching a lot of flak, not only from bloggers and GOP-leaning commentators and opinion shapers, but from House Republicans.  Rightly so.  As I said above, the appointment of Mueller was fraudulent, and the final renewal of the Carter Page FISA was also fraudulent.  Both were the acts of Rosenstein.  It wasn't wrong for Rosenstein to have gone to the meeting with McCabe, but once he got an idea of what McCabe wanted – Rosenstein's cooperation in taking down Trump via the 25th Amendment – Rosenstein should have gone straight to Trump and told him: You've got a major problem over at the FBI.  I say this based on Rosenstein's own statements that his opinion then and now was that there was and is no basis for applying the 25th Amendment.  The FBI, as an investigative agency, had no business getting involved to the extent that it did in any such process.

Here's the larger point: all that was basically a Republican operation – not a Democrat operation, even though Democrats were overjoyed at what was going on.  Rosenstein was a Republican appointee serving a Republican administration, with oversight from Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.  That being the case, what is the likelihood that Rosenstein would have taken the steps he did – appointing the S.C., approving the final renewal of the FISA – just because Andrew McCabe at the FBI, of all people, wanted him to?  I would say the likelihood is just about zero.  As I said above, Rosenstein is basically a cautious bureaucrat – but a highly intelligent cautious bureaucrat.  He would have been a fool to have taken those steps without some tacit understanding with the major players in the GOP establishment that those steps needed to be taken.  After all, when we talk about a special counsel in this context, we're talking about attacking the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.  It's hard for me to believe that Rod Rosenstein made that decision without consulting with people like Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan.

I think the lay of the land has changed substantially since those early days of the Trump presidency.  The Republican Party has become the party of Trump.  An understanding has been reached.  For that reason, I expect that after a successful midterm election, vigorous action will be taken to put all this to rest.  The big question will be, will the Republicans take aggressive legal action against the Democrats who set all this in motion?  The Kavanaugh nomination fight and the Republican reaction to it suggest that the Republicans may decide to pursue this to the end.

John Solomon is reporting that, according to James Baker in his recent House testimony, that business about Rosenstein maybe wearing a wire against Trump was no joke – or at least not from the perspective of the FBI.

Baker told lawmakers he wasn't in the meeting that McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in which the subject came up.  But he did have firsthand conversations with McCabe and the FBI lawyer assigned to McCabe, Lisa Page, about the issue.

"As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed," said a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation.  "It was no laughing matter for the FBI."

Solomon is properly circumspect about what might be behind Baker's statements – after all, this could be simple truth-telling, or it could be payback for Rosenstein's cooperation with Trump in recent weeks.  It remains possible, even likely, that Rosenstein wanted nothing to do with McCabe's idea of recording President Trump and seeking to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, no matter what his personal views on Trump.  On the other hand, the FBI leadership – knowing what their criminal jeopardy was should Trump become aware of their shenanigans during the 2016 election – doubtless saw this as a life-and-death matter – for them.  It wouldn't be for Rosenstein, although Rosenstein went on to create his own problems for himself.

Solomon rightly stresses the extraordinary implications of all this (emphasis added):

Baker's story lays bare an extraordinary conversation in which at least some senior FBI officials thought it within their purview to try to capture the president on tape and then go to the president's own Cabinet secretaries, hoping to persuade the senior leaders of the administration to remove the president from power. ...

I doubt this is the power that Congress intended to be exercised when it created the FBI a century ago, or the circumstances in which the authors of the 25th Amendment imagined a president's removal could be engineered.

This wasn't a president who was incapacitated at the time.  He was fully exercising his powers – but in a way the FBI leadership did not like.

And that makes the FBI's involvement in the tape-record-then-dump-Trump conversations overtly political – even if Rosenstein believed the whole idea was farcical.

Obviously, the Deep State, one way or another, is very unhappy with Rosenstein at this point.  Trump has complete leverage over Rosenstein and so is willing to protect him – he may yet prove useful – but Rosenstein would be well advised to look both ways before crossing any streets.

ADDENDUM: It's seems apparent that the meeting of Rosenstein and Scott Schools from the DoJ with the FBI's Andrew McCabe and Lisa Page was in fact a strategy session.  It was intended to address – at a minimum – how to deal with the new president or, more likely, how to hamstring him.  What came out of that meeting was not DAG Rosenstein wearing a wire, but it was a Rod Rosenstein – who for all matters involving President Trump was actually the attorney general (due to the Sessions recusal) – who not only hid from Trump the fact that the FBI was conspiring against him, but also was willing to use fraudulent means to occupy Trump legally and continue to spy on him through FISA.

MORE: IBD has an interesting editorial: "Did Hillary Clinton Direct Deep State's Trump Investigation?"  The basic idea is straightforward: none of the FBI abuses and crimes would have occurred but for the Hillary Clinton campaign's involvement.  The editorial goes into a fair amount of detail, but it is heavily based on the revelation by James Baker, general counsel of the FBI, that Baker received information relevant to the Carter Page FISA directly from the lawyer for the DNC and the Clinton campaign, who was paying Fusion GPS: Michael Sussman, of Perkins Coie.  Baker accepted this information knowing where Sussman was coming from.  (See "James Baker Identifies Another Source behind the FISA Application.")  Bottom line: All of this, pre-election, was a Democrat operation.  It happened; it was illegal and fraudulent.

But Rod Rosenstein has been catching a lot of flak, not only from bloggers and GOP-leaning commentators and opinion shapers, but from House Republicans.  Rightly so.  As I said above, the appointment of Mueller was fraudulent, and the final renewal of the Carter Page FISA was also fraudulent.  Both were the acts of Rosenstein.  It wasn't wrong for Rosenstein to have gone to the meeting with McCabe, but once he got an idea of what McCabe wanted – Rosenstein's cooperation in taking down Trump via the 25th Amendment – Rosenstein should have gone straight to Trump and told him: You've got a major problem over at the FBI.  I say this based on Rosenstein's own statements that his opinion then and now was that there was and is no basis for applying the 25th Amendment.  The FBI, as an investigative agency, had no business getting involved to the extent that it did in any such process.

Here's the larger point: all that was basically a Republican operation – not a Democrat operation, even though Democrats were overjoyed at what was going on.  Rosenstein was a Republican appointee serving a Republican administration, with oversight from Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.  That being the case, what is the likelihood that Rosenstein would have taken the steps he did – appointing the S.C., approving the final renewal of the FISA – just because Andrew McCabe at the FBI, of all people, wanted him to?  I would say the likelihood is just about zero.  As I said above, Rosenstein is basically a cautious bureaucrat – but a highly intelligent cautious bureaucrat.  He would have been a fool to have taken those steps without some tacit understanding with the major players in the GOP establishment that those steps needed to be taken.  After all, when we talk about a special counsel in this context, we're talking about attacking the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.  It's hard for me to believe that Rod Rosenstein made that decision without consulting with people like Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan.

I think the lay of the land has changed substantially since those early days of the Trump presidency.  The Republican Party has become the party of Trump.  An understanding has been reached.  For that reason, I expect that after a successful midterm election, vigorous action will be taken to put all this to rest.  The big question will be, will the Republicans take aggressive legal action against the Democrats who set all this in motion?  The Kavanaugh nomination fight and the Republican reaction to it suggest that the Republicans may decide to pursue this to the end.