Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been invited to brief the Senate on, hmm, whether he intended to recommend the firing of FBI Director James Comey when he wrote the following paragraph:

Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly. I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.

Rosenstein has spent the last 24 hours frantically backing away from suggestions that his memo—essentially a comprehensive (and true!) (and credible!) rundown of Comey’s incompetence—formed the basis for President Trump’s decision to fire the beleaguered dingus Tuesday. Rosenstein was reportedly so troubled by this characterization—that a paragraph that starts with “...the President has the power to remove an FBI director...” and ends with “the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions” would meaningfully influence the President’s decision to fire the FBI director—that he considered resigning from his position as Deputy Attorney General.

Advertisement

At issue is whether Rosenstein’s memo was written to recommend Comey’s termination, or at the behest of his bosses, who had already decided to fire Comey, and needed a nerd in glasses to lay out a case they could pass off as the reasonable justification. Presumably this is what Rosenstein will clarify for the Senate, but to the extent that his briefing will not include a blow-by-blow of Donald Trump watching CNN in a dressing robe at 3 a.m., its insights into the President’s decision-making process will be limited.