Afternoon Briefing: Another Michael Cohen Payoff, and Rosenstein Is Prepared to Be Fired
Rod Rosenstein has told friends and colleagues that he is prepared to be fired, reports NBC News.
In those conversations, he has repeated the phrase, “Here I stand,” a reference to Martin Luther’s famous quote, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Coincidentally, former FBI Director James Comey, whom Rosenstein fired, repeated the same phrase to President George W. Bush in a conversation that has been widely reported and that Comey describes in his forthcoming book.
One source who spoke to Rosenstein said he seemed fully aware he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility, confident he had done his job with integrity.
If Rosenstein is fired, it would trigger a lot of possibilities and a lot of uncertainty over who might take over as acting Deputy AG in charge of the Mueller investigation. Under the line of succession, Trump could go through Noel J. Francisco, the solicitor general; Steven A. Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel; and John Demers, the head of the National Security Division until he found someone willing to fire Robert Mueller. Or, he could somehow potentially install a Senate-confirmed member of the executive branch, like loyalist Scott Pruitt of the EPA, but that would require a very aggressive interpretation of the Vacancies Reform Act.
If Rosenstein is fired, all hell is going to break loose no matter who replaces him, and Trump is an idiot if he believes he can just fire his way out of this mess.
Oh, and remember how Mueller is preparing a report with four findings of obstruction of justice? One of those findings is that Trump dangles pardons in front of potential grand jury witnesses and that what may be at play in Trump’s decision to pardon Scooter Libby, a guy who basically did everything that Trump purportedly stands against (but mostly leaking). He may be using the pardon of Scooter Libby to signal to those under indictment (or who will soon be under indictment) that he will pardon them. Otherwise, the pardon makes no damn sense.
Trump pardons Scooter Libby. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” he says in statement, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 13, 2018
Libby’s conviction, by the way, stemmed from a prosecution by a special counselor appointed by … James Comey. So, this all may be just Trump’s way of trying to stick it in the eye of Comey.
Anyway, the Michael Cohen case has become even more complicated, as the WSJ is now reporting that Cohen paid a Playboy Playmate $1.6 million to keep quiet about the fact that Elliot Brody — a major Trump fundraiser — impregnated her.
Michael Cohen, whose office, home and hotel room were raided by federal agents this week, arranged the payments to the woman on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee with ties to Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, works on the Republican committee with Mr. Cohen, who is also a national deputy finance chairman.
The deal, which hasn’t previously been reported, prohibits the Los Angeles woman from disclosing her alleged relationship with Mr. Broidy in exchange for $1.6 million to be paid to her over two years in quarterly installments, these people said. The first payment was due Dec. 1, according to one of the people.
Oh, and also:
And Hillary is the crooked one?
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