It has become clear that the endgame for President Trump in pushing the release of the Nunes memo in an attempt to discredit the FBI and Department of Justice is to give him grounds to fire DOJ Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, who appointed and now oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In a rare show of independence, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to come to Rosenstein’s defense today while speaking at a conference today, according to a report by an ABC News correspondent.
Atty Gen Jeff Sessions went off script at human trafficking event this morn to praise Deputy Atty Gen Rod Rosenstein, a reported target of Nunes memo. Noting Rosenstein has 27 yrs at DOJ, Sessions said Rosenstein represents "the kind of quality & leadership that we want" in DOJ.
— Mike Levine (@MLevineReports) February 2, 2018
And it wasn’t just Rosenstein who the department head praised.
Jeff Sessions said this morning that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand "both represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department." https://t.co/m8A4lZr4D1 pic.twitter.com/yrdCoqckou
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 2, 2018
This comes on the heels of a telling non-comment by Trump this morning as the president announced he was approving the release of the biased Republican Nunes memo.
“Does it make you more likely to fire Rosenstein? Do you still have confidence in him after reading the memo,” Trump was asked?
“You figure that one out,” Trump responded, not saying anything, but apparently conveying his cynical plan to find a way to clean house at the DOJ.
What that may mean is that Sessions will have to go right along with Rosenstein if there is a presidential “massacre” as a prelude to firing the Special Counsel.
Trump has been warned by Democrats and some Republicans already that firing all of them could bring on a constitutional crisis, but the president clearly will do whatever he wants, as long as the team on Fox & Friends approve.
So even though the memo is being seen as biased and not much in terms of the content, it could still stir Trump to action that would at least delay the Russia investigation.
It might even last long enough to make the whole thing an issue in the midterm elections in November where the Democrats could win a majority again, and be in a position in early 2019 to impeach Trump for his illegal and inappropriate actions.
This has a long way to go yet.