It's been one of those harrowing days so far. In addition to the nonstop horror show circulating around Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process, it appears as if Donald Trump's Mr. Wizard-like strategy in dealing with the Kavanaugh debacle is to distract the news media with a big, juicy obstruction of justice story.
Once again, Trump always makes things worse for Trump. In this case, however, it appears as if the president's kneejerk move -- firing Rod Rosenstein to break-up the Kavanaugh news cycle -- has disintegrated, at least for now, given the midday reports suggesting Rosenstein tendered his resignation but then, um, didn't. And now we're left with the prospect of a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Rosenstein on Thursday of this week.
Vanity Fair's Gabe Sherman reported today:
According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. “The strategy was to try and do something really big,” the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.
Given this news, it seems obvious by now that the latest episode of the Rosenstein saga, beginning on Friday, was more Trump fuckery to hijack the news cycle away from the Kavanaugh chaos.
Trump or someone loyal to him likely leaked a misleading story to Michael Schmidt of the New York Times about Rosenstein as the turncoat official seeking a 25th Amendment remedy back in 2017 around the time James Comey was fired. This included an exaggerated tale about Rosenstein telling then-Acting FBI Director Andy McCabe that he'd be willing to wear a wire to record Trump's criminal blurtings, which we later heard was a bit of Rosenstein saracasm.
This story successfully manufactured a pretext to fire Rosenstein, offering Trump two upsides: it'd distract from Kavanaugh and it'd potentially flummox the Mueller investigation.
But as we've heard, Trump is a coward when it comes to firing people -- ironic given his stupid catchphrase from The Apprentice. Plus, we can't forget the existence of officials inside the administration who are busily scrambling to keep President Toonces from driving the car off the cliff.
What appears to have happened is that Rosenstein chose to preempt his own firing by offering a verbal resignation, delivered to the White House while Trump is busily being a laughing stock at the UN, and that he was subsequently talked off the ledge by this cabal of officials referenced in the anonymous op/ed.
Meanwhile, Trump seems to be dragging the story later into the week by announcing a Thursday meeting, which, firing or not, will keep alive a "Rosenstein: Dead Or Alive?" narrative dominated by four days of speculation on cable news.
All that aside, we need to embrace the notion of a constitutional crisis. Donald Trump is busily obstructing justice -- including his declassification recklessness -- to both shield himself from a political/criminal disaster while monkeying with the news cycle. In other words, Trump is willing to worsen his legal jeopardy by adding to a rap-sheet of obstruction charges as long as Kavanaugh gets confirmed. It's a suicidal move, but as we've observed, Trump is a transactional president who blindly sacrifices his long-term prospects in order to achieve some sort of impact in the near term. Like an idiot.
Again, Trump always makes things worse for Trump. By the way, this theory needs to be extended to the entire Republican establishment, at this point. Meantime, if Trump's willing to do play games with obstruction of justice, he's willing to do a lot of awful things that land squarely outside constitutional strictures and definitely beyond traditional executive powers. Mueller's noose is tightening, the Kavanaugh nomination is crashing, and Biff is capable of anything,