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Rosenstein’s week-long journey from Trump’s man of absolute integrity to the target of rage tweets

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Trump has a change of heart.

Rod J. Rosenstein (left) CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Life comes at you fast.

Just a week ago, according to the Trump administration, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was the most admired and unimpeachable man in America. Today, according to the same administration, he’s launched the biggest witch hunt in U.S. history.

On May 9, Trump relied on a memo written by Rosenstein to justify the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

On May 10, Pence repeated this claim, heaping praise on Rosenstein:

The new deputy attorney general, who was just sworn in two weeks ago and confirmed by the FBI, came to work — he is a man of extraordinary independence and integrity and a reputation in both political parties of great character — came to work, sat down and made the recommendation for the FBI to be able to do its job that it would need new leadership.

Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders expanded on the importance of Rosenstein and his sterling reputation during a press briefing on May 10.

And somebody like the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein — who everybody across the board has unequivocally said, this guy is a man of upstanding character and essentially the gold standard at the Department of Justice — when you take an action like that, when you go around the chain of command in the Department of Justice, then you have to make steps and take action to make a recommendation to the President.

On May 11, Trump piled on. He deviated slightly from the idea that he was acting in response to Rosenstein but still talked up his credentials.

He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him; the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation, but regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.

At this point, the White House may have overplayed their hand. Rosenstein reportedly chaffed at being used as a human shield against criticism of Comey’s firing. He was also subject to harsh criticism by his peers — and even calls for his resignation.

Rosenstein attempted to resuscitate his reputation by naming former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of the investigation into the Trump campaign and potential ties to Russia.

Mueller’s appointment could spell trouble for Trump and his associates. He not only has a broad mandate but is highly skilled in conducting investigations and prosecuting crimes.

Now that Rosenstein was no longer useful, Trump no longer believed him to be “highly respected,” “good,” or “very smart.” Instead, Rosenstein just launched “the single greatest witch hunt of a political in American history!”

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Last week feels like a long time ago.


Rosenstein’s week-long journey from Trump’s man of absolute integrity to the target of rage tweets was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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