Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided he’d had enough of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal today, and rather than trying to make it go away, he made the decision to hand off the investigation to someone far more powerful. Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to lead the investigation, a devastating blow to Trump. But how did Rosenstein manage to pull it off without getting fired?
It turns out Rosenstein didn’t bother to consult Donald Trump or the White House before deciding to appoint the Special Counsel; according to Politico, he simply appointed Mueller and then informed Trump that the deed was done (link). This meant that Trump effectively couldn’t have prevented the Special Counsel from happening by firing Rosenstein before the move could be made.
It explains why Rod Rosenstein still has his job tonight despite having defied Donald Trump in such a devastating manner. Trump could still fire Rosenstein out of pure spite, but at this point it wouldn’t accomplish anything of substance. And as it turns out, Rosenstein may have taken the subterfuge even further.
As recently as a few days ago, Rod Rosenstein was making a point of stating that he saw no need for a Special Counsel in the Trump-Russia investigation. It’s possible that he truly felt that way, and that the stunning events of the past forty-eight hours have changed his mind. But it’s also possible that Rosenstein was planning to do this all along, and that he made the earlier comments in order to lull Trump into a false sense of security so he wouldn’t be fired before hitting back with the Special Counsel.