The White House is privately launching new efforts to publicly undermine Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by working with President Trump’s allies to paint Rosenstein as too conflicted to properly oversee special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, CNN reported Thursday evening.
The talking points of the effort are still in their infancy, according to people familiar with the effort who spoke with CNN, but the White House has asked Trump associates to not only undermine Rosenstein in public, but also to attempt to cast Rosenstein and former FBI Director James Comey as close colleagues, even though Rosenstein helped carry out Comey’s firing. A source close to Rosenstein told CNN that the two are not friends.
CNN’s sources say that the White House is hoping if Comey and Rosenstein are seen as allies, Trump’s supporters can argue that Mueller’s expansive Russia probe could be seen as retribution for Comey’s firing. A White House spokesperson, however, told CNN that Trump allies’ seemingly coordinated calls for Rosenstein’s firing are not part of a unified effort.
The increased animosity toward Rosenstein stems from Trump’s frustration over the FBI’s raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s house, hotel and office earlier this week. While the raid was executed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI agents received the warrants after getting information from Mueller’s team. Trump has become increasingly convinced that Mueller and Rosenstein have taken the investigation too far and is reportedly still irate about the raid.
“He’ll be pissed about it until he dies,” one source told CNN, referencing the Cohen raid.
Read the full CNN story here.