Rosenstein: How about James Comey’s new career as a “partisan pundit,” huh?


To no one’s great surprise, Rod Rosenstein isn’t a big fan of James Comey’s new careers — either as a “partisan pundit” or an expert on soul-eating. In a speech last night in Baltimore, the recently departed deputy Attorney General told civic leaders that the former FBI director is sore because he deserved to be fired — although not in the manner Donald Trump carried it out. Rosenstein ripped Comey’s arrogance in knowing the status of his soul, remarking that such judgments were not the proper province of “police and prosecutors”:

Rod Rosenstein took aim at James Comey Monday, calling him a “partisan pundit” in a speech that included the most public retelling yet of the twists and turns of the Russia investigation by the man who oversaw it. …

Rosenstein also responded directly to a barb from the former FBI director, who said at a CNN town hall last week that Rosenstein’s character wasn’t strong and that his soul had been “eaten” by his time in the Trump administration.

“Now the former director seems to be acting as a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul. I kid you not. That is disappointing,” Rosenstein said.

Contrary to Comey’s assumptions about the status of his soul and Rosenstein’s motives about writing the memo that prompted Comey’s dismissal, Rosenstein insisted that the memo captured his honest assessment of Comey. Rosenstein told the audience that he didn’t get pressured into creating a pretext for Comey’s dismissal — he objected to how Comey handled the investigations into Hillary Clinton and Trump, told Trump so, and wrote a memo explaining that at Trump’s request.

In fact, Rosenstein said, he left out what Trump really wanted in the memo, and didn’t exactly care for what Trump did next:

Rosenstein also remembered how he disobeyed Trump’s request to include in that memo that Comey had told Trump that he wasn’t under investigation — “because number one, I had no personal knowledge of what the director said to the President, and number two, in any event, it was not relevant to my memo” — and criticized the way the President carried out the firing.

“If I had been the decisionmaker, the removal would have been handled differently, with far more respect and far less drama,” Rosenstein said.

Presumably, that means Rosenstein would have waited until Comey returned to Washington DC and told him personally first. Instead, Trump had Comey’s firing announced first, leaving Comey to hear about it in the FBI’s Los Angeles office. Under those circumstances, one can understand why Comey would be bitter, and why he might spend the rest of his life blaming Rosenstein — even if Comey brought it on himself with his series of bizarre decisions to air derogatory information when no indictments were forthcoming.

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That’s not Rosenstein’s problem, though, nor is it a matter for Rosenstein’s soul. Perhaps Comey should worry more about his own, or maybe more about the upcoming probe into the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Rosenstein won’t have anything to do with that assessment. Although, it certainly could end up opening opportunities for Rosenstein to do a little punditry of his own, especially if the conclusions undercut Comey’s credibility in that career.

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