Steve Bannon says that President Trump should fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein within the next 72 hours for “clearly obstructing justice if the DOJ doesn’t coughg up all the documents sought by Congressional investigators.
Trump’s former chief strategist told The Hill on Wednesday: “If he doesn’t do it in 72 hours, he’s fired. I’d fire him.“
House conservatives threatened to impeach Rosenstein last week, only to walk back the threat days later after Speaker Paul Ryan came out against it, and Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) announced a bid to replace Ryan after the speakership opens up due to Ryan retiring after this year.
Bannon, a controversial figure who left the White House a year ago and was derided by Trump after the publication of Michael Wolff’s exposé “Fire and Fury,” insisted that there would eventually be a commission set up to look at anti-Trump malfeasance by intelligence agencies during the initial investigations into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.
The president’s allies have long alleged that the investigation has been marked by bias, pointing to examples such as text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. –The Hill
Bannon’s call to remove Rosenstein should not be confused with efforts to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller – a suggestion tweeted by President Trump on Wednesday when he said “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”
Trump may have been referring to Mueller’s longstanding friendship with fired FBI Director James Comey. As radio host Mark Levin noted last June:
John Legato is a former deep cover FBI special agent – and he writes that Comey and Mueller –their families have vacationed together, have had picnics together, hours spent at the office together, had a few cocktails after work. So Mueller can’t possibly be impartial here. Not when he’s very close friends with a key witness.
The point is this – he’s not independent
And as the Weekly Standard wrote in July:
Mueller fought alongside Comey in Washington’s trenches, the sort of brothers-in-arms political battles that might forge lifelong bonds. Comey has been described as viewing Mueller as the “one person in government whom he could confide in and trust.” But for all that, is theirs “a personal or political relationship” of the sort DoJ regulations count as a conflict of interest?
However one describes Robert Mueller’s relationship with James Comey, there is clearly a relationship. And there is no disputing Mueller’s longstanding and career-defining relationship with the FBI. Both Comey and the FBI are central to the investigation into Trump; both have a huge stake in the outcome of that investigation. But it might be asked why the question of conflicts matters now? After all, Mueller’s relationships with Comey and the FBI were clearly known before he was appointed special counsel. Rosenstein must have, at the very least, considered the question before giving Mueller this crucial assignment. Or did he? The appointment of the special counsel all happened very fast and the deputy attorney general may, in his haste, have glossed over the obligations of 28 C.F.R. 45.2. –Weekly Standard
That said, Bannon has nothing but good things to say about Mueller, calling him “a good man, a combat-veteran Marine.” He did agree, however, that the probe should be “brought to a conclusion” since there was “obviously no collusion,” though he thinks Mueller should issue a report prior to midterm elections for public consumption.
“Let the American people, on Nov. 6, let them decide,” Bannon insisted, referring to the midterm elections. “They are going to say that is too thin a reed to hang anything serious on.” –The Hill
When asked about Trump’s reference to Jeff Sessions in his Wednesday tweet, Bannon said “I think the president’s just expressing his frustration.”
Trump’s former chief strategist also commented on some of Rudy Giuliani’s antics on various TV networks, saying “I love me some Rudy but I understand Rudy has good appearances and some maybe that are not of the [same] Rudy quality.”
On former Trump attorney Michael Cohen – who appears to be in the process of flipping on Trump, Bannon said he had “known Michael for years,” but not well.
“When I first took over the [Trump] campaign, I was pretty direct with him that there couldn’t be any involvement in the campaign, and he really shouldn’t be down on the 14th floor,” said Bannon, in reference to the campaign’s headquarters within Trump Tower. He says he did this to avoid “intermingling” between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Trump organization.
And finally, on the question of whether Trump knew about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in advance, Bannon said “No, not at all,” before insisting that people should focus on Rosenstein and the DOJ.
“There is a cover-up right now,” said Bannon.
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