Trump tweet sounds; Rosenstein asks DOJ IG to probe FBI infiltration of Trump campaign

Trump tweet sounds; Rosenstein asks DOJ IG to probe FBI infiltration of Trump campaign
(Image via Twitter)

And here we go.  After a series of revelations about the FBI’s alleged use of informants to gather information on the Trump campaign in 2016, President Trump tweeted on Saturday and Sunday.

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Finally, he tweeted this:

A short time ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued an announcement that he is asking the Department of Justice Inspector General to review the matter.

The Washington Examiner quotes Rosenstein:

In a statement, Rosenstein said: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.” The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from Russia-related matters.

It is tempting to pick at the wording here, and predict that it will all come to nothing because the DOJ and FBI will find a way to make their purposes in 2016 seem “appropriate.”

Trump’s tweeted demand reads:

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

You could drive an 18-wheeler at 80 mph through the wide-open spaces between “political,” “inappropriate,” and “appropriate.”  We may get to watch DOJ, FBI and the media stonewall and obfuscate on those grounds for months.

But the real question isn’t whether everyone can agree on what constitutes a “political” or “inappropriate” purpose.  The real question is whether DOJ and FBI had the legal grounds to do what they did. 

It’s quite possible IG Michael Horowitz could be trusted to investigate that question honestly.  But has he been given that task?  It’s a reasonable question, in light of the wording so far.

Worth noting: Rosenstein reacted awfully quickly to a Sunday tweet from the president.  There’s a whiff about that of trying to frame this preemptively as an IG matter, over which DOJ will thus not lose effective control – at least not on the time horizon of the November 2018 election.

The IG can levy demands for internal records, but the DOJ and FBI can slow-walk each demand, and the IG will need outside help if there is persistent recalcitrance.

Moreover, Rosenstein’s response comes before Trump’s formal demand is issued.  If Rosenstein’s referral for an IG review isn’t responsive to what Trump actually puts out on Monday – what then?

All of that noted, however, the record up to now indicates that Trump doesn’t have to swish every shot.  The longer this goes on – in the hands, notably, of people other than Trump – the more is revealed: not about Trump but about what federal agencies were doing under Obama in 2016.  There is no reason to think that will change.

Here is what Trump is doing right.  He’s making a public case of this.  Would I phrase or frame everything the way he does?  No.

But Trump is doing the opposite of what we are told Obama did in 2016.  Instead of perusing potentially explosive, republic-altering information and keeping it a secret – while fanning innuendo about his political opponents – Trump is publicly highlighting exactly what is alleged to have happened, publicly taking actions directly relevant to those allegations, and framing forthright conclusions about what the Obama administration may have been involved in.

It’s not pretty to watch.  But it’s honest.  An honest test of forthright, measurable, disprovable propositions is what we’ve been needing.  But with the Mueller probe and the “Russia” narrative, it’s not what we’ve been getting.

Fasten your seat belts.

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J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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