Lee Smith Investigates: Rosenstein DOJ Threatens “Obstruction” Over Declassification Directive…

Terrific article written by Lee Smith at Real Clear Investigations today highlighting a competing leverage dynamic between President Trump and DAG Rod Rosenstein.  One of the reasons the outline is valuable – is specifically because Smith accepts the information ‘as it is‘, as it appears to be, and not as he would wish it to be.  [Read Here]

The result of Smith’s investigative research assembles a compilation of recent events, and discussions from sources within congress, and seems to parallel our own research and most likely conclusions therein.  In summary: there is an ongoing politically motivated ‘battle over leverage‘ between President Trump and Rod Rosenstein.

We have discussed this leverage issue extensively.  However, Smith brings forth a new aspect in the form of the recently filed position of the Rosenstein DOJ as it relates to the declassification of FISA documents.  This new information introduces the position of Rosenstein as likely political ‘push-back‘ against the president and declassification.

As Smith notes the recent DOJ filing infers any attempt to declassify material within the FISA application is tantamount to “obstruction” of the Mueller investigation:

In the 178-page court document, DOJ officials said they had “determined that disclosure of redacted information in the Carter Page FISA documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation into Russian election interference.”

In other words, Rosenstein’s DOJ position is any attempt to declassify the Page FISA documents is interference or obstruction of the Mueller investigation.

This likely Rosenstein/Mueller position is important because it strikes directly at the heart of the declassification conundrum previously outlined. {Go Deep}

Previously we discussed how White House lawyers were very tentative about following President Trump’s declassification request on the basis that two agencies of the executive branch (FBI and DOJ) could, with political motive and intent, advance the argument that President Trump was interfering with the investigation.

In August and September 2018 the issue was: what would happen if the DOJ and FBI refused to follow the directive from the President?

The answer is not legal, it is political.  {Go Deep}

After several weeks of internal debate, in late August/early September the White House seemed to reconcile the legal and political declassification minefield through a view the President’s position to declassify was: the executive branch fulfilling an oversight request from the legislative branch, ie. congress:

As we noted at the time (Sept. 17, 2018)  – The president (WH counsel) is referencing “committee requests”, this is critical because it removes the legal conflict (executive self-interest) within the release; and makes the request a function of legislative branch oversight.

[Additionally, and importantly, the request also called for all of the prior Page/Strzok text messages to be released without redactions.]

However, this decision to declassify also set the stage for a discussion between DAG Rod Rosenstein and President Trump.  Four days after the initial announcement; on September 21st, the President reversed course.

After a conversation between President Trump and DAG Rosenstein the president withdrew the declassification request, and announced that Rosenstein had “agreed to” address the underlying congressional concerns within the pending Inspector General report on FISA abuse:

The IG report on FISA abuse is now anticipated to encompass and have reviewed: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

At the time we could see how this move gained President Trump political leverage toward the eventual disclosure of the truth.  However, until the recent DOJ court filing, we did not know the likely position DAG Rod Rosenstein held in the September 21st conversation.

With the DOJ release, and the overlay of the sourcing from Lee Smith, we now have a better understanding of Rosenstein’s DOJ leverage.  A threat, veiled or overt – it matters not, against the President under the auspices that any declassification would be considered obstruction of justice by Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

“disclosure of redacted information in the Carter Page FISA documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation into Russian election interference”

[…] “The obstruction trap was built into the special counsel,” a congressional investigator told RCI, speaking, like the two other sources in this article, only on condition of anonymity.  “If Trump fires Mueller, or Rosenstein, or declassifies documents [embarrassing to the FBI] it’s likely to bring an obstruction charge.”

And that would mean double jeopardy for Trump. “Obstruction is the instrument the Democrats are likely to use to impeach Trump if they win the House,” said the congressional source.

The upshot is that the president will likely hold off on declassification,  at least until after the midterms in November, and  congressional investigators are likely to be stymied, at least for now, in their quest to expose what they call Obama-era surveillance abuses. (read more)

For all intents and purposes Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller are joined in fate over the Russia probe.  DAG Rosenstein hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in part due to the recommendation of FBI Legal Counsel Jim Baker and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.  The Mueller probe was a shield and a sword.

Robert Mueller was carefully selected by James Baker and Andrew McCabe, and hired by Rod Rosenstein therein, specifically to cover for the DOJ and FBI activity that preceded the firing of James Comey.  From the corrupt small group perspective Mueller’s role had two essential aspects:

♦(1) Create an investigation – Just by creating the investigation it is then used as a shield by any corrupt FBI/DOJ official who would find himself/herself under downstream congressional investigation.  Former officials being deposed/questioned by IG Horowitz or Congress could then say they are unable to answer those questions due to the ongoing special counsel investigation.  In this way Mueller provides cover.

♦(2)  Use the investigation to keep any and all inquiry focused away from the corrupt DOJ and FBI activity that took place in 2016, 2016, 2017.  Keep the media narrative looking somewhere, anywhere, other than directly at the epicenter of the issues.

In both of these objectives the Mueller special counsel has been stunningly effective.  From the White House position, the special counsel has been frustratingly effective in their protection of a false narrative around ‘muh Russia’.

DAG Rod Rosenstein has also been protecting Mueller, and defending the integrity of his hiring decision, using using the same false Russian narrative when needed {Go Deep}.

Now we can get a better idea of how Rosenstein leveraged the threat of ‘obstruction’ by Mueller to deep the declassification material hidden.  This is new and important.

So long as the Mueller probe exists, the prior corrupt FBI and DOJ conduct remains hidden.  One of the more important intentions of the probe is to do exactly that.  This Mueller outcome also protects DAG Rosenstein from sunlight upon his involvement in creating the probe under false pretense.

This also explains why the extent of Andrew McCabe’s legal issues have been stretched-out and obfuscated.  The DOJ decision-maker on McCabe is not Jeff Sessions; he is recused.  The decision-maker is DAG Rosenstein.  So long as McCabe is protected, Rosenstein is also safe from scrutiny. It’s a vicious circle.

Everything is the political games of DC.  Rosenstein leverages Trump (passively) with Mueller’s threat of obstruction.  Additionally, by gaining the delay, Rosenstein protects his own interests (actively) with the outcome of McCabe.

However, President Trump ultimately controls the validity of the IG report, If it doesn’t contain clear evidence of the abuse that fingers McCabe and the usurpers the declassification documents will.  DAG Rosenstein is likely hopeful he can navigate long enough to see the IG report identify McCabe as the central suspect in the operation.  Then Rosenstein will have a fall-guy for his duplicity in the scheme; he will say he too was conned by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and possibly James Baker.

To pull this off, Rosenstein needs to keep Mueller around as a shield until the IG report comes out. Hence, Rosenstein tells Trump to wait on the declassification until Horowitz finishes his report; and leverages Mueller’s threat toward that end.

Trump knows, absent an obstruction angle, he is no longer under Mueller’s sword of Damocles.  The president’s decision to delay the declassification is akin to moving the chair from under it.  Additionally, President Trump can also validate the IG FISA report findings with a release of the classified information upon completion.

In the familiar world of the Potomac Two-Step the outcome makes sense.  Robert Mueller files a final report to Rod Rosenstein justifying the existence of the Special Counsel probe (the severity of the anti-Trump report depends on the outcome of the midterm).

Around the same time Rosenstein uses the IG report to file criminal corruption charges against Andrew McCabe.  The pound of flesh is delivered and everyone else is extracted pending what McCabe does next.

For Team Clinton, Andrew McCabe is the fall-guy; who he might also possibly take down in is a matter of prior relationship building and DC horsetrading. To understand the difference between Team Clinton and Team Obama – SEE HERE

Nothing likely touches Team Obama (Lynch, Comey, Rice, etc.)

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