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Memorandum for the Attorney General on Comey
I’m still reporting on the Trump.
Only the pure desperation of the Democratic Party could possibly continue to try to make advantage out of President Trump’s decision yesterday to terminate FBI director Comey. Everyone feared him. Everyone wanted him gone.
However, if everyone would simply read the last half of the letter sent by the new deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. Rosenstein has only been in the job since April 25th. He recommended Comey’s firing. Sessions sent his letter on to President Trump along with a shorter one of his own.
Rosenstein’s letter lays out an iron-clad case to the point where no reasonable person would question it.
What the Democrats count on is that only a small percentage of the population would actually read this relatively short letter. Therefore, as a public service, we will read - not the entire letter - but only the last page and a quarter – a grand total of 673 words.
Again, this is the new deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, writing to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, laying out his case. Sessions, then agreed, wrote a short memo to President Trump, and forwarded this recommendation on to the President.
From here on are Rosenstein’s words:
In response to skeptical questions at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his ”goal was to say what is true.
What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it.”
But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Atty. Gen. to make prosecutorial decision, and then – if prosecution is warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts. We sometimes release information about closed investigations in appropriate ways, but the FBI does not do it sua sponte.
Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would “speak” about the FBI’s decision to investigate the newly discovered email messages or “conceal” it. “Conceal” is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the long-standing policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.
My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties.
Judge Laurence Silberman, who served as Deputy Attorney General under Pres. Ford, wrote that “it is not the bureau’s responsibility to opine on whether a matter should be prosecuted.” Silberman believes that the Director’s “performance was so inappropriate for an FBI Director that [he] doubt[s] the bureau will ever completely recover.” Jamie Gorlich, Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton, joined with Larry Thompson, Deputy Attorney General under Pres. George W. Bush, to opine that the Director had “chosen personally to re-strike the balance between transparency and fairness, departing from the Department’s traditions.”
They concluded that the Director violated his obligation to “preserve, protect and defend” the traditions of the Department and the FBI.
Former Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey, who served under Pres. George W. Bush, observed that the Director “stepped way outside his job in disclosing the recommendation in that fashion” because the FBI director “doesn’t make that decision.”
Alberto Gonzalez, who also served as Attorney General under Pres. George W. Bush, called the decision “an error or in judgment.”
Eric Holder, who served as Deputy Attorney General under President Clinton and Atty. Gen. under Pres. Obama, said that the Director’s decision “was incorrect. It violated long-standing justice department policies and traditions. And it ran counter to the guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season.” Holder concluded that the Director “broke with these fundamental principles” and “negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI.”
Former Deputy Attorneys Gen. Gorlich and Thompson describe the unusual events as “real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its ideological limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation,” that is “antithetical to the interests of justice.”
Don Ayre, who served as Deputy Attorney General under Pres. George HW Bush, along with other former Justice Department officials was “astonished and perplexed” by the decision to “break with long standing practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.” Ayers letter noted, “Perhaps most troubling … is the precedent set by this departure from the Department’s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions.”
We should reject the departure and return to the traditions.
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.
End of letter.
I’m still reporting from Washington, good day.