For John, BLUF: If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released the twelve indictments of Russian GRU Officers on Friday last without coordinating with the President and Foggy Bottom then he is a Dim Bulb. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Uncomfortable Questions in the Wake of Russia Indictment 2.0 and Trump’s Press Conference With Putin
From Lawfare Blog, by Mr Jack Goldsmith, 16 July 2018.
Here is the lede plus five:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his Justice Department/FBI team deserve congratulations for doing their job of figuring out in concrete detail what the Russians did in the 2016 election campaign and telling the American people about it—now in an indictment and perhaps later, and in more detail, in a report. Last week’s indictment might also portend, as the Lawfare crew implied, a tightening of the criminal-conspiracy noose to include Americans, perhaps some with connections to the Trump campaign.Yes, the subtle implication of the third paragraph, expanded upon in following paragraphs, is that the Special Counsel and the DOJ as a whole haven't really thought out where this is heading. For example, are we going to now suggest international norms about interfering in the elections of other nations? And, if so, are we going to apologize for all the times we have interfered in the elections of other nations?
The indictment also represents an extraordinary assertion of Justice Department power and independence. President Trump never stops complaining about the DOJ “witch hunt,” but his subordinates in the Potemkin unitary executive branch keep proving him wrong. The president didn’t even have the de facto authority to delay Rod Rosenstein’s announcement from the maximum embarrassment it caused him on the dawn of his summit with Vladimir Putin. With each new concrete revelation contrary to the president’s wishes and representations, Rosenstein’s and Mueller’s effective power grows vis-a-vis the president.
But behind the indictment, and the congratulatory reaction to it, lie some uncomfortable unanswered questions about blowback toward U.S. officials, reciprocal interference by the United States in other nations' political affairs, the lack of preparation for renewed electoral interference in this country, and U.S. journalists’ publication of stolen U.S. government information. These questions have heightened significance and more difficult answers in light of President Trump’s astounding performance Monday in Helsinki.
Between the President, his DOJ and the Democrats on Capitol Hill, and the Republicans in the same location, we need to have some common understanding of what happened in 2016, so we can better deal with 2018 and 2020. I dislike putting its in these terms, but we need a young J Edgar Hoover, who we all trust, to clean up this mess.
But, for an exit question, what if one of the Russian GRU officers shows up to be tried? What if his lawyer asks for discovery, for the Bradey material? I think it would be interesting. This has already happened with Concord Management, indicted in February.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff