Before President Trump was inaugurated, before he was elected, and even before he was the Republican nominee, his enemies in both parties and the establishment speculated that he might be impeached.
Politico published a story about impeaching Trump in April 2016, months before Trump finished rolling over his GOP opponents. Ever since he took office, Representative Maxine Waters, the leftist from California, has been beating the impeachment drums like a madwoman.
Eleven members of Congress filed impeachment articles yesterday. But not against The Donald.
The target, instead, is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (shown), second in command to Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, for his role in investigating Russia’s attempt to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign.
Jordan, Meadows Lead Charge
Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina are running the effort, which, if successful, would only be the first step in removing Rosenstein from office. The Senate would have to try and convict him.
Jordan laid out the case against Rosenstein in a release posted to his website:
The impeachment articles come as evidence continues to mount regarding the Department of Justice’s problematic decision-making during the 2016 campaign and conduct surrounding the transition to President Trump’s administration in 2017. The impeachment articles are the result of nearly 9 months of unsuccessful congressional attempts to force the Department of Justice (DOJ) to comply with oversight requests.
The failures cited within the articles include intentionally withholding embarrassing documents and information, knowingly hiding material investigative information from Congress, various abuses of the FISA process, and failure to comply with congressional subpoenas, among others.
FISA refers to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which controls the surveillance of foreign powers or their agents. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must approve a FISA warrant before surveillance can begin.
Noting that the Justice Department has withheld information from Congress, Meadows claimed that he and his colleagues now “have evidence that Mr. Rosenstein signed off on a document using unverified political opposition research as a cornerstone of a FISA application to spy on an American citizen working for the Trump campaign.”
That conduct is “reprehensible,” he said. “Obstruction is wrong — period. It’s time to find a new Deputy Attorney General who is serious about accountability and transparency.”
The articles of impeachment include Rosenstein's not recusing himself from the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein signed the FBI’s application to renew surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who, it was suspected, was tied to Russian intelligence agents.
Rosenstein’s “conduct in authorizing the FISA surveillance,” the first article says, “makes him a fact witness central to the ongoing investigation of potential FISA abuse.... Rosenstein’s failure to recuse himself in light of this inherent conflict of interest and failure to recommend the appointment of a second Special Counsel constitute dereliction of duty.”
The members also accuse Rosenstein and the Justice Department of not providing documents to Congress, and not only of failing to tell material witnesses about requests for testimony, but also of instructing witnesses to refuse to testify.
The fifth article is particularly noteworthy. Rosenstein, it alleges, “oversaw the potentially improper authorization of FISA searches and electronic surveillance of members of the Trump campaign.” The release of documents related to the FISA application shows that the dossier “compiled by Christopher Steele on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed a material part of the FISA application.”
Under Mr. Rosenstein’s supervision, the Department of Justice and FBI intentionally obfuscated the fact the dossier was originally a political opposition research document before the FISC.
Under Mr. Rosenstein’s supervision, Christopher Steele’s political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used in October 2016 nor fully revealed to the FISC, given Director Comey’s June 2017 testimony the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”
As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Rosenstein has failed in his responsibility for the proper authorization of searches under FISA, and his conduct related to the surveillance of American citizens working on the Trump campaign has permanently undermined both public and congressional confidence in significant counterintelligence program processes.
Democrats, unsurprisingly, are unhappy
Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, and Elijah Cummings — Democrats from California, New York, and Maryland — called it “a panicked and dangerous attempt” to stop the investigation into Trump. “The president should not mistake this move by his congressional enablers as a pretext to take any action against Mr. Rosenstein or Mr. Mueller and his investigation. Any attempt to do so will be viewed by Congress and the American people as further proof of an effort to obstruct justice with severe consequences for Trump and his presidency.”
Another opponent is House Speaker Paul Ryan. “I don’t think this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Ryan, who has always been something of a weak sister on tough issues, despite the reputation he has for “brutal” workouts in the House gym that might kill a lesser man.
Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who often appears to be prosecuting witnesses that appear before his House Oversight Committee, said he wasn’t interested in the drama. Another called it a “publicity stunt,” Politico reported.
Knowing the impeachment was coming, Politico reported, the Justice Department “noted that they had shared more than 880,000 pages of documents connected to the Clinton probe with the Judiciary and Oversight committees.”
It’s unclear whether Jordan, Meadows, and the other nine are serious about the measure. They ducked a chance to vote on the impeachment before the August recess, Politico reported, which means it will sit until they return in September.