The story published by The New York Times on Friday has led to one of the more interesting and controversial reactions on both sides of the political divide.
The story, which reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein allegedly pushed for President Trump to be secretly recorded last year and even went as far as to suggest recruiting administration officials (John Kelly and Jeff Sessions) to implement a 25th Amendment coup on the president, has everyone in the Beltway freaking out.
Trump’s haters believe that this story originated with the White House, and that the president is going to use it as a pretense to fire Rosenstein and put a friendlier face in charge of the Russia investigation. Some of Trump’s loyalists say it’s just another example of the Deep State conspiracy against the president and further evidence of Rosenstein’s bias. Other Trump loyalists think the whole thing may be a set-up intended to bait Trump into firing Rosenstein, thus setting off a “Saturday Night Massacre” scenario that would give Mueller more cause to pursue an obstruction of justice charge.
And then there are some – Rosenstein’s lackeys at the Justice Department, mostly – who say Rosenstein was just joshing around last year when he talked about recording Trump and throwing him out of office. Because that’s always fun to joke about.
In other words, no one knows what the hell is going on.
But one thing is certain: The Rosenstein story is of a piece with the rest of the anti-Trump news that’s come out over the past month. That includes the anonymous op-ed written for the Times by a self-proclaimed member of the “resistance” within his administration and it also includes Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear,” which is riddled with anecdotal evidence of a soft coup within Trump’s Cabinet. In both of those examples, there was talk last year of removing Trump through the use of the 25th Amendment, so we’re not sure if we buy that Rosenstein was just “joking” when he made mention of it.
We’ll say this: Rosenstein ought to save the president some trouble and submit his resignation. There’s plenty of reason to believe he really made these suggestions last year, and that’s more than enough to recommend he be relieved of his duties. He should now do the honorable thing, admit he is not in a good position to oversee the Russia investigation, and leave his position to someone more objective. If he doesn’t, then the American people will lose whatever dwindling faith they have left in the Mueller probe.