Exclusive: According to sources with links to the Justice Department and intelligence community, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was ordered by Russian hacking suspect, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to write two separate memos regarding Director Comey; one that argued for Comey’s strengths as FBI Director and the second, which Sessions used in his obstruction of justice to fire Director Comey.
This means that it is Jeff Sessions who is directly responsible for obstructing justice by misusing Rosenstein’s pro and con Comey memos, and not Donald Trump. The Deputy Attorney General made a point of saying that even in his ‘negative’ memo, he would not recommend that Donald Trump fire Director Comey. On the night James Comey was fired by Trump, using the Sessions memos, Rosenstein had to be persuaded not to resign himself, so angered was he that Jeff Sessions had tricked him and misused only one of his two memos.
However, DAG Rosenstein was persuaded that it would be madness to resign and allow a right-wing partisan loyal to Trump, and only confirmed on a party-line vote, take his position overseeing the inquiry. Sessions had been forced to recuse, and the game was now to eliminate Rosenstein. Instead, the Deputy Attorney General immediately appointed Special Counsel Mueller, and left any decisions on recusals to him.
As I reported on Twitter at the time, both Andy McCabe and Rod Rosenstein had Director Comey’s full confidence – and they still do.
The concerted effort to concoct a forced recusal – which will not happen – is seen by sources as a push from Russian interests using selected commentators in the US media, some of whom may not realize they are being used in this way, because only one of the Rosenstein “Comey Memos” was ever used (and abused) by Jeff Sessions.
Sources say that the USIC has indeed long been playing a game of chess with Mr. Putin. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham confirmed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, these sources say, deliberately in order to trap both Trump and Sessions. Both men were well aware of the “conflicts” Sessions had with Russia, and Senator McCain, who gave to US intelligence a much fuller version of the Steele Dossier, in particular, knew some of the reported signals intelligence on meetings Sessions had had with pro-Russian lobbyists. By confirming Sessions as Attorney General they removed him from the Russia inquiry, and this was deliberate.
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Sources with links to the intelligence community report deep anger at what is seen as a push by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has both close ties to Vladimir Putin and funds PR companies in the United States, to push for the forced “recusal” of DAG Rosenstein on spurious grounds that he is a “witness” to obstruction of justice by Donald Trump. Donald Trump tried to boost the flagging ‘recusal’ narrative in the mainstream media by tweeting:
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
Of course, this is exactly the tactic Trump tried to use against Judge Curiel in the Trump University case. Trump tried to catfish Curiel into recusal by tweets and abuse:
I have a judge in the Trump University civil case, Gonzalo Curiel (San Diego), who is very unfair. An Obama pick. Totally biased-hates Trump
The pattern of calling bias, adding insults and generally creating smoke in order to remove a ‘troublesome priest’ is both annoying and ineffective, Justice Department sources say. Sources pointed out that DAG Rosenstein had already set out the legally correct position – he would recuse himself if Mueller, not Trump, decided he needed to do so. Thus, any recusal would only be determined by the Special Counsel.
It is plain to see that Mr. Trump would always be able to cherry-pick Justice Department and other third branch personnel if he were able to force them into recusal merely by picking a quarrel with them, these sources say. Special Counsel Mueller is unmoved by media parlor games incited by Mr. Deripaska, who is currently, whether he knows it or not, under the spotlight by the United States Intelligence Community, who resent Putin’s ongoing attempted intervention in their work.
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