Why did President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey now? The answer, as my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York has argued, is that he waited until after his impeccably apolitical Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in place as Comey’s direct superior.
Rosenstein was confirmed on April 25 and his memorandum “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI,” was appended to Trump’s firing letter exactly two weeks later.
In that document, Rosenstein characterized Comey’s July 5, 2016 statement on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s secret email system as “a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and against are taught not to do.” In support of that proposition, he cited comments from five former deputy attorneys general and four former attorneys general of both parties (including Eric Holder, who held both offices).
Who is Rosenstein? He started off his career as a Justice Department lawyer and was appointed U.S. attorney for Maryland by George W. Bush in 2005. He was one of only three of the 93 U.S. attorneys kept on during the Obama administration. This could not have happened without the approval of Maryland’s Democratic senators at the time, Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
Both senators are paragons of integrity with long experience in the swampland of Maryland politics. Mikulski was elected to the Baltimore Council in 1971 and to Congress in 1976. Cardin was elected to the state legislature in 1966 and to Congress in 1986. Both saw successive Maryland governors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, ousted from office under criminal charges. Both surely wanted a competent and apolitical federal prosecutor and believed they had one in Rosenstein.
This makes mincemeat of Democrats’ cries that Trump fired Comey to kill any investigation of Russian collusion in the election. Rosenstein will be in charge of that, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. And Trump’s FBI director nominee will also receive close scrutiny from the Senate.