House Conservatives Want To Impeach Rod Rosenstein For Some Reason

In what can only be described as a blatant exercise of partisanship, a group of hard-right conservatives is seeking to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in what clearly seems to be an effort to assist the President in undermining the ongoing Russia investigation:

WASHINGTON — A group of House Republicans escalated their feud with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, on Wednesday, introducing articles of impeachment in a long-shot bid to oust the official overseeing the special counsel inquiry into Russian election interference.

The move was seen as much as a political maneuver as an act of congressional oversight. The group of 11, led by Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, would need the support of a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mr. Rosenstein. The resolution they filed does not require the entire House to vote before Congress adjourns for its summer recess on Friday.

But it could provide President Trump with more ammunition to attack Mr. Rosenstein, who has been in Mr. Trump’s cross hairs since he appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to investigate Russia’s plot to manipulate the 2016 presidential election and whether any Trump associates were complicit.

Republican lawmakers have been sparring with Mr. Rosenstein for months. They accuse the Justice Department of being less than forthcoming with documents related to several of its most sensitive investigations, including the Russia inquiry.

“It’s time to find a new deputy attorney general who is serious about accountability and transparency,” Mr. Meadows said in a statement on Wednesday.

While the department has largely produced the documents requested in subpoenas from the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Republicans have complained for months that Mr. Rosenstein and the department have slow-walked production of the papers and hidden information from Congress.

“At almost every opportunity, Mr. Rosenstein has resisted and defied Congress’s constitutional oversight,” Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona said in a statement. “His time to obstruct our investigations has expired.”

The resolution zeroed in on Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to sign off on a request to renew a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the resolution.

By its language, the Constitution does allow Congress to impeach Cabinet-level, and some sub-Cabinet level officials, but it is exceedingly rare in American history. Impeachment itself is something that has happened only nineteen times in American history. Of those nineteen, only one involved the impeachment of a Cabinet-level official, and that was the impeachment of William Belknap, who served as Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant and was one of the members of Grant’s cabinet accused of personally profiting from kickbacks related to revenue from trading in Indian territory. Belknap was ultimately acquitted by the Senate. The remaining eighteen impeachments have included two Presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, which both ended in acquittal in the Senate, sixteen Federal Judges who have been charged with crimes such as accepting bribes and other allegations of abuse of their judicial office. Two years ago in the waning year of the Obama Administration, there was an effort to impeach John Koskinen, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, over disputes with a House committee that were similar to those at the root of the Rosenstein matter. That effort, however, died at the end of then-current session of Congress.

Ostensibly at least, this move is related to issues only tangentially related to the Russia investigation, which Rosenstein has been supervising since last year when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter due to his involvement in the Trump campaign. Instead, the resolution is supposedly rooted in the Justice Departments allegedly incomplete compliance with subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. These subpoenas sought production of documents related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information, the use of confidential informants, and the Russia investigation itself. With respect to the final matter, the primary focus of the document requests has apparently focused on the FISA warrants that were issued against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, which Republicans have claimed was defective due to its supposed reliance on politically biased information. The Justice Department has said that it has complied with the document requests and that it had broadly complied with the remaining subpoena requests and expected to deliver the remaining documents within the next week. Despite this, Republicans have claimed that Rosenstein has been dragging his feet and refusing to provide the requested documents.

As it stands, there is very little likelihood that this resolution will ever be voted on or that it would be approved by a majority of the House if Meadows, Jordan, and the other members of the Freedom Caucus were able to get it to a floor vote. Congressman Trey Gowdy, who heads the House Oversight Committee, rejected the idea of impeaching Rosenstein last week. Additionally, the Republican leadership of the House. and most importantly House Speaker Paul Ryan, has rejected the idea of impeachment, meaning that this resolution can only reach the floor through a rather convoluted process that is unlikely to be successful. Even if it did, though, it seems clear that it would not obtain sufficient votes to send the matter to the Senate for a trial. Furthermore, even if they did manage to put a majority together for impeachment, there’s simply no way that they’d be able to get two-thirds of the Senate to vote to remove Rosenstein from office.

Jennifer Rubin argues that this move shows why Republicans are unfit to govern:

It is not Rosenstein who should be removed from office, but rather, the House Republican members who are obstructing an ongoing investigation of the Republican president and his cronies. While their actions are protected (most likely) under the” speech or debate” clause (preventing criminal prosecution or civil suit for actions that would otherwise be actionable), their pattern of conduct (cooking up a misleading memo about the FISA warrant application for Carter Page’s surveillance, exposing a confidential intelligence source, smearing the FBI) amounts to multiple blatant attempts to thwart an entirely legitimate investigation. If anyone in the White House is conspiring with them to interfere with the investigation, such individuals could be investigated for obstruction of justice.

(…)

Ironically, Republicans have been arguing that if Democrats ever get control of Congress, they will tie the place up with bogus impeachment hearings and create gridlock. No, Republicans are doing that all on their own. “It’s a PR stunt that nobody who knows anything about impeachment could take seriously,” says constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. “But it will do great harm anyway by contributing to the degradation of the impeachment power, making it harder to use when it is truly needed to rein in a would be-dictator.” Referencing his book with Joshua Matz, “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,“ Tribe tells me this is why he and Matz argue that “casual and frequent impeachment talk can damage the already frayed fabric of our dangerously polarized polity.”

While House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) tried to discourage this move, it is he who has indulged the GOP antics — especially the dishonest and grossly inappropriate conduct of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). It’s he who has refused to support a legitimate independent commission to review the Russia matter, opposed a joint select committee, made light of the president’s attacks on the rule of law and refused to consider legislation protecting Rosenstein and Mueller.

In other words, this is nothing more than a political stunt, but as The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips notes, it is also connected to the broader Republican effort to undermine the Russia investigation:

A group of Trump allies in the House of Representatives officially made their move to impeach the official who set up the special counsel investigation and whose firing could blunt or end it.

They claim the grounds for impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein is his alleged stonewalling of their document requests into investigations into Justice investigations of Hillary Clinton and President Trump.

But that gets harder to believe when you look at this group’s penchant for using the “i-word” against their political opponents, their Republican colleagues’ lack of support for impeaching Rosenstein and all the reasons to believe there is a GOP conspiracy to help Trump undermine the independent Russia investigation.

(…)

We already know making the Russia investigation and people around it look bad is one of Trump’s main objectives. He tries to do it on a daily basis. If he wanted to end it without, say, causing a constitutional crisis that firing the special counsel might, getting rid of Rosenstein is the way to do it. Trump could simply put someone else in his place who was more inclined to blunt or hamper the investigation.

Given the shaky lines in this impeachment move and the much starker ones between some Republicans’ actions and Trump’s desire to undermine the Russia investigation, it seems likely that House Republicans just made their boldest move yet to impede or end the Russia investigation.

That, in the end, is what this is all about.

Here’s a copy of the resolution that was filed yesterday:

Rosenstein Impeachment Resolution by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

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FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    “It’s time to find a new deputy attorney general who has absolute loyalty to great president Trump.”

    -Freedom Caucus Comrades(FCC)

    4
  2. An Interested Party says:

    Who could have of guessed that obstruction of justice could stretch to include so many people…

    6
  3. Kathy says:

    When you’re loyal to the incompetent and sleazy, naturally you’ll seek enemies among the competent and ethical.

    4
  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Death throes:
    : the violent movements and noises that are sometimes made by a person who is about to die The opera ends with the hero in his death throes. —often used figuratively the death throes of a failing industry.

    2
  5. Pete S says:

    I am not that familiar with House rules so this is a serious question – is there a way that the Democrats could team with the 11 Republican meatheads who filed this resolution to force a vote?

    Actually the best move might just to be getting Paul Ryan on the record either verbally or in writing, not allowing a vote on a resolution from the members of his own caucus. Then this is held in reserve in case he ever runs for office again to remind supporters of both parties that he is not on their side.

    2
  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    One thing that was noted is that the representatives behind this really wanted to impeach Rosenstein, they would have submitted the articles of impeachment as a “privileged motion” that would force a floor vote on it.

    The fact they specifically decided not to do that indicates this is purely a “repeal Obamacare for the 400th time because we know it’s not actually going to go anywhere” posturing situation.

    9
  7. Mikey says:

    What can one even say about garbage like this? This is some of the dumbest shit yet. I mean, seriously lame, and transparently, stupidly partisan.

    There really is no bottom for today’s GOP. Every time you think they’ve sunk as low as they could, they plumb new depths of venality.

    4
  8. Kathy says:

    I know absolutely nothing about Mr. Rosenstein outside of what’s been published in connection to the Mueller probe. Still, he brings to mind a quote I read once, which I think was said about Grover Cleveland: “They love him best for the enemies he’s made.”

    7
  9. Hal_10000 says:

    If the Republicans had any integrity, they would be filing impeachment charges *against* Jim Jordan, not with him.

    (Also, the impeachment seems to include holding Rosenstein responsible for things that happened before he was in charge. Not sure how that works.)

    6
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Gym Jordan is just trying to distract from his Denny-Hastert-level scumbaggishness.

    Republicans are so fvcking dumb.
    Bin Laden got them to do exactly what he wanted them to do, and now Putin is getting them to do exactly what he wants them to.
    If only they would do what the American people want them to.

    4
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Doh…now I see that Gym Jordan is going to run for Speaker.
    Makes sense…he’s the quintessential Republican.

  12. al Ameda says:

    Doug: The move was seen as much as a political maneuver as an act of congressional oversight. The group of 11, led by Representatives Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, would need the support of a majority of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mr. Rosenstein. The resolution they filed does not require the entire House to vote before Congress adjourns for its summer recess on Friday.

    @Pete S:

    I am not that familiar with House rules so this is a serious question – is there a way that the Democrats could team with the 11 Republican meatheads who filed this resolution to force a vote?

    I’m with you, time to force these grease balls (most of the Republican House delegation) to go on the record. If they won’t bring it to a vote, and they won’t, then Democratic representatives should bait (troll) these grease balls daily

    2
  13. Mikey says:

    Man, this thing is SO DUMB. They go after Rosenstein for stuff that happened before he was even Deputy AG…and on top of that, the stuff they go after him for isn’t actually true anyway.

    No doubt the GOP’s current idiot base will eat this crap up, but wow, it’s just embarrassingly bad.

    2
  14. SKI says:

    Follow the money.

    These scumbags will be using this to fund raise.

    6
  15. Steve V says:

    Hannity’s running things now.

    2
  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Nate Silver tweeted,

    The potential for House Republicans to do electorally self-destructive things as they compete to see who’s the MAGA-iest potential Speaker in the land seems like an underplayed story.

    2
  17. mike shupp says:

    Impeachment. Such a big imposing word! Let’s make it seem silly and trivial, just some Congressional fooling around that the voters needn’t pay attention to . Suppose you’re a Republican Congressman who wishes your voters back home would just learn what a meaningless term that is and go to sleep whenever they hear Democrats babble about impeachment.

    Does an idea occur to you?

    1
  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Pete S:

    The original sponsors can move to file it as a privileged motion, forcing a vote without any Democrats needing to be involved. This is a GOP circus; let them step in the poo.

    For the obvious reason that this is theater. It stands zero chance of being successful in the Senate.

    1
  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    Alas, as much as I would hope it to be true, outside of the pundits-sphere there is no evidence of the death of the Republican Party at the grassroots. Consistent Repug voters are backing Trump or at minimum, waving away the inconvenient facts that he is corrupt and has obstructed justice.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Pete S: Your idea may come under the category of “too smart by half.” Consider the following: In the wake of your 11 or so Democrats joining in, Ryan announces, in the wake of the bipartisan support for investigating the obvious abuses of power by an unelected government bureaucrat I see the need to have this investigation reveal what there is to be seen. Let the chips fall where they may.

    What’s your next move?

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I can also see the next morning tweet storm

    Even the DEMOCRATS are finally acknowledging that this whole Russia thing is nothing but a WITCH HUNT! TIME TO END THIS! LET’S JOIN AGAINST MUELLER AND THE HATERS AND MAGA!!

  22. Tyrell says:

    What is needed is some sort of independent committee (no politicians) to finish this investigation up by August 31. It is obvious that Mueller has no timeline, no limits on funding, and no limits on whatever methods he uses. Congress needs to listen to the people: end this foolish partisan investigation.