Earlier this evening, the Majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that their “female assistant” hired to asked their questions at the Thursday hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Blasey Ford would be a Maricopa County, Arizona sex crimes prosecutor named Rachel Mitchell.
It turns out one of the only at-length interviews Mitchell has ever done is with a publication put out by the far right ‘fundamental baptist’ organization Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI), an organization closely tied to Bob Jones University and espousing a range of hyper-traditionalist views on gender, sexuality and sexual ethics.
Interesting follow up here from the Post about Monday’s Rosenstein drama. As predicted, it now seems most likely that Rosenstein will not leave at all, or at least not until after the midterm election. So what happened?
I speculated Monday afternoon that Rosenstein might have been resigned to leaving. But he may have insisted that if Trump wanted him gone they had to fire him. He wasn’t going to resign. The Post’s suggests that it wasn’t about firing or resigning. The Post says that Rosenstein “told the White House he was willing to quit if President Trump wouldn’t disparage him.”
We’re set up for a busy Thursday, with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh set to testify and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein set to discuss his future with President Trump. Ahead of that, we’re trying to get a sense of what the future could hold for both men.
A brief note on Rod Rosenstein. Given all the fireworks there’s an inevitable tendency to see him as some sort of member of the anti-Trump resistance. This is not right. Rosenstein is a career Republican lawyer. He was part of the Starr investigation. He was there during Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony, sitting among his supporters and clearly a big supporter of his nomination. This is just what you’d expect in a high level Justice Department appointment under a Republican administration. One sign of his professionalism or reputation for integrity is that while he got his US Attorney appointment under Bush, he was retained under President Obama. The Obama DOJ did this more than other administrations. But if he were clearly a hack or a clear partisan he wouldn’t have been retained in 2009. When we think of Rosenstein we should think of him as someone who would really really really like to be a team player in every way possible. To his credit, he appears to have limits.
A bit more speculation. White House officials were clearly telling reporters with certainty this morning that Rod Rosenstein was out. There was ambiguity about whether he would be fired or resign, and that certainty seems to have been driven in large part by sources at the DOJ who made clear that Rosenstein would have to be fired. But I go back to the point that White House officials, at least until near the end, were saying this was a done deal. Rosenstein was out, only the details were to be determined.
So what happened?
My read here is that Kelly thought or wanted to think that Rosenstein said he was willing to resign. But he refused to resign and made clear that if they wanted him gone Trump would have to fire him. Trump didn’t have the nerve to pull that trigger. Perhaps Kelly made clear that this was something Trump needed to do himself. So here we are.
[ed.note: Just after I finished this piece, I saw the latest report that Trump has punted this decision to Thursday, after he’s back from Washington. That’s consistent with what I explained below.]
I just got this email from TPM Reader JO. Let me try to answer these questions as well as I can – an exercise that will largely turn on explaining all we don’t know.
I’d really benefit from one of your members-only brief summaries of the recent Rosenstein developments.
Was the NYT article regarding Rosenstein & the 25th amendment factual? fabricated? If the latter, by whom? Who was pushing the NYT to get it wrong (if it was wrong)?
What was up with Hannity pushing Trump NOT to fire Rosenstein?
What is the state of knowledge regarding Rosenstein today: pushed or jumped?
In general: who are the major players in this drama, what are their interests, and how does this explain what we are observing?
I’m finding this story unusually confusing.
Looking forward to your insights.
This is needless to say a very grave development in the Trump presidency. We’ve discussed this possibility, this almost inevitable eventuality so many times the event largely speaks for itself. A critical question, as yet uncertain, is whether Rosenstein resigns or is fired. This is no question of mere nuance. It directly controls under what terms President Trump will be able to replace the Deputy Attorney General and the person who oversees the Special Counsel investigation.
A new set of allegations put Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation further in doubt. Here’s more on that story and others we’re following.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced Tuesday that the committee would vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET, just a day after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will be asked about Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh in a hearing.
JUST IN: The Senate Judiciary Cmte has rescheduled the committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for 9:30am on FRIDAY –> pic.twitter.com/Ys0qJ3UDhO
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 25, 2018
The White House’s principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, has told “multiple people” he plans to leave the West Wing after Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process concludes, Yahoo News reported Tuesday. Two unnamed people “familiar with Shah’s thinking” told Yahoo that Kavanaugh’s successful confirmation would allow Shah to leave his current job on good terms.
A spox for one of Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys tells me that they’re still in the dark about the identity of of outside attorney who will question her for Republicans on Thursday.
— Tierney Sneed (@Tierney_Megan) September 25, 2018
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway doubled down on her assertion that the sexual misconduct and assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are part of a “left wing conspiracy,” a theme conservatives are using in their effort to spin the accusations as a smear campaign.
According to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Donald Trump will be holding a press conference at 5 PM on Wednesday to discuss his United Nations General Assembly trip, as well as the “news of the day.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Monday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh deserves a “right to clear himself” at the upcoming Senate hearing about the allegation of sexual assault made by professor Christine Blasey Ford.
President Donald Trump was laughed at Tuesday during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, after he asserted that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
“Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay,” Trump said.
World laughs after Trump claims his administration "has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country." pic.twitter.com/hqEKjnTiyJ
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) September 25, 2018
James Roche, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate at Yale, remembers Kavanaugh as a “notably heavy drinker,” even for college, who got “belligerent” and “aggressive” when drunk.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday told ABC News that “certainly we would be open” to allowing the second woman who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct — Debbie Ramirez — to testify about her allegations on Thursday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his wife, Heidi, were chased out of a D.C. restaurant called Fiola Monday night by a swarm of protesters chanting “we believe survivors!” in reference to the women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct and assault.