WTF Community

Day 827

Updated 4/26/2019 10:52 AM PDT

1/ Trump defended his 2017 comment that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, in which an avowed neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. At the time, Trump condemned what happened "on many sides," aruging there were "very fine people on both sides" of the incident. Now, nearly two years later, Trump stood by his claim, claiming that he answered questions about the incident in Charlottesville "perfectly." Trump's comments came a day after Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign with a video comparing the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville to Trump's response. The "Unite the Right" rally was organized by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer. (Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / CNN)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

It’s interesting that Rod Rosenstein sort of turned towards defending the President, backing Barr, saying anything contrary about Barr and in fact defending everything that Barr presented (and blaming Obama)

This turn-around seemed to happen when Rosenstein’s job was on the line…and he in effect pleaded with T, and said he could guide the investigation.

Yes, Rosenstein needs to go in front of the House Judiciary Committee

By Matt Zapotosky ,

Josh Dawsey and

Devlin Barrett

April 26 at 3:20 PM

Rod J. Rosenstein, again, was in danger of losing his job. The New York Times had just reported that — in the heated days after James B. Comey was fired as FBI director — the deputy attorney general had suggested wearing a wire to surreptitiously record President Trump

. Now Trump, traveling in New York, was on the phone, eager for an explanation.

Rosenstein — who, by one account, had gotten teary-eyed just before the call in a meeting with Trump’s chief of staff — sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with matter. He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.

I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein said, in the words of one administration official offering their own characterization of the call. “I can land the plane.”

I HAD A SUSPICION that something was up with Rosenstein…here’s my revelation about whether Rosenstein would have been changing his stripes a bit.

exchange with @Pet_Proletariat

I get a little stuck on the fact Rosenstein, freshly hired from a DA’s job in MD, would help construct a letter that removes Comey with all the plausible reasons why T could. McGahn knew that this letter was wrong because it looked like obstruction of justice and canned the first version of it. The letter was re-written and the tacking on that T was not being investigated has always seemed like an obvious tell that T needs to make it seem like he’s always been free of any malfeasance having to do with Russia. But Rosenstein I know was upset that he was set up to have to write that ‘cover’ letter…when it was always T’s intention to fire Comey, he just needed a reason why.

I am super curious about the Rosenstein remark to get a wire put on T because Rosenstein thinks he is loony (yes, he is) but the way that story was leaked and the subsequent bargain that must have been created as a result is strange. Rosenstein was not fired at the revelation he requested (in jest?) that T be wired…and Rosenstein has kept his job even with that bit of news coming out.

But Rosenstein would still (I think) still have a hand in overseeing all the Mueller investigation, but you are right…he may only be in the counterintelligence area…and not the general search for criminality that Mueller’s main focus would be with Russia, and compliance within T’s campaign, the Russian hackers.


From Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats cautioning that the “warning lights are blinking red again” to reports that someone has launched a disinformation campaign to target 2020 Democrats, all signs point to the security of American elections once again being at risk. “We continue to expect a pervasive messaging campaign by the Russians to undermine our democratic institutions,” Matthew Masterson, an election cybersecurity senior adviser to the Department of Homeland Security, told The New York Times Wednesday. “We saw it in 2018, continue to see it, and don’t expect it to subside.” Given all this, you would think Donald Trump would make tamping down on election meddling a top priority. And yet, according to the Times, the Trump administration has hit a major road block in its attempts to address the issue: the president’s fragile ego.

Per the Times, ex-D.H.S. chief Kirstjen Nielsen attempted in the months before her ouster to get the administration to prioritize the security of the 2020 election, having become “increasingly concerned” about Russia’s malign activity during the 2018 midterms. But her warnings were reportedly brushed aside, with sycophantic chief of staff Mick Mulvaney telling Nielsen in a meeting this year not to bring the matter up with the president, who still apparently regards any acknowledgement of Russian meddling as a cloud on his unlikely 2016 victory.

Trump’s election-meddling angst has long been a pain point for his administration. The president has consistently cast doubt on the extent of Russia’s 2016 interference, going so far as to take Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence officials. He’s repeatedly complained that claims of Russian meddling are an “excuse” cooked up by Democrats to explain away Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Others in his orbit have been similarly dismissive, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, who said Tuesday that investigations into Russia’s meddling had a “much harsher impact on our democracy” than the meddling itself.

That attitude has essentially forced intelligence and security officials to circumvent the White House to tackle the ongoing threats against the integrity of the American electoral system. Still, without White House support, their efforts represent a drop in the bucket. “The lack of presidential guidance to address this as a national problem impedes the ability” to carry out a more effective initiative, a former top United States intelligence official said last year, ahead of midterms.

Meanwhile, the warning signs keep coming. Tactics like those used by Russia in the last two election cycles are already being deployed against top Democratic presidential hopefuls like Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke, according to analysts. And yet, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent vow to “make very clear to [Russia] this is unacceptable behavior,” the issue doesn’t seem to be very high on the administration’s list of priorities. As the Times noted Wednesday, it’s not just Trump’s bristling at the notion that he didn’t beat Clinton all by himself that’s making it harder to address America’s election security. The administration has made decisions, like eliminating the White House cyber-security coordinator position, that may have kneecapped the government’s ability to address the problem, even as 2020 looms. “Russian intelligence’s 2016 covert actions to divide Americans by interfering in our election were so successful,” Kevin Carroll, a former senior Trump D.H.S. official, told the Times. “Putin will amplify them in 2020.

And, in case you missed it, here’s the NYT piece referred to above:


Absolutely galling…

thx @Keaton_James - you’ve laid it out perfectly.

And a few more galling statements from observers

More of the same commentary on WTF Rosenstein


ummmmmmm wtf. Spin spin spin


Good…UVA has no respect for 45, and the team will be a no show.


So in the pocket of the Russian financed NRA.

Boy, I’ll sleep easier knowing more guns are going to terrorists. /snark

Donald Trump said Friday he would remove the United States from a global arms treaty, the latest example of his administration’s disdain for international agreements and restrictions on weapons sales. His pledge to abandon the “badly misguided” Arms Trade Treaty, which restricts the transfer of weapons to terrorists and other malicious actors outside of the country, drew a standing ovation at the annual National Rifle Association meeting in Indianapolis, where Trump was speaking.


Re: Rosenstein

I pretty much agree with Ben Wittes here. Click tweet for full thread. :point_down:


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Absolutely! Yesterday you posted about Rosenstein’s recent speech. When I read the following article about it, my jaw just dropped. The title of the article could actually be, “Rosenstein Shows His True Colors.”

Wow. Rosenstein has the audacity to lay blame at Obama’s feet for not doing more to protect us against Russia’s attack on our election and then fails to say one thing about Trump doing absolutely zip to protect us for the last two years. In fact, Trump has done the opposite. He has undermined our efforts to stop Russian hacking by his relentless denials that it ever happened, by his perpetual praise of Putin, and by specific acts such as dissolving the White House office of cybersecurity.

Trump even gets angry when aids bring up Russian interference in our election – when he actually should be briefed about it every day and be taking rigorous defensive measures accompanied by reassurances to the American people that he is on the case – instead, he has buried his head in the sand.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein did not mince words.

In a prepared speech delivered to the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein criticized the Obama administration for failing to act on what he says should have been a “real-time reaction to Russian hacking.”

“The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America,” he said.

But he saved his harshest criticism for the press, which he accused of blatantly sensationalizing the facts surrounding his involvement in the two-year inquiry. “Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper it was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it,” he said. …

Yet it was the press that was speaking truth to power for months and months, letting the American public know that Russia attacked our election process while our President was trumpeting that it never happened. And it is the press to this day that continues to sound the alarm while our President sits on his hands and does nothing.

And here’s the kicker. This is where Rosenstein reveals that he has been a Trump enabler all along:

He only mentioned Trump once in the talk, praising the president’s approach to the law. “The rule of law is our most important principle,” Rosenstein said. “As President Trump pointed out, ‘We govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] … the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will.’”

WTF?! When has Trump shown one once of respect for the “rule of law”? In fact, he has been resolutely undermining it since the day he took office. His latest move being to instruct everyone in his administration to spurn subpoenas from Congress.