Today, the New York Times editorial board took the stunning step of penning a public plea to a single government official, pleading with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to do the right thing on the investigation of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Rosenstein has been thrust into the spotlight as the man who wrote the justification for the firing of FBI Director James Comey and was scapegoated by the Trump regime for making the recommendation.
The open letter in today’s edition begins:
“Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
“It’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.”
The letter went on to tout Rosenstein’s sterling reputation, even praising him for not explicitly calling for Comey’s firing in his memo. “But after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from these matters, because of his own contacts during the campaign with the Russians, the power to launch a truly credible investigation has fallen to you, and you alone,” the letter continues.
“You have one choice: Appoint a special counsel who is independent of both the department and the White House.”
The letter makes clear that, at least within the Executive Branch, Rosenstein may be justice’s last recourse:
“In theory, no one should have a greater interest in a credible investigation than the president, who has repeatedly insisted the suspicions about his campaign are baseless. Yet rather than try to douse suspicions, he has shown he is more than willing to inflame them by impeding efforts to get to the truth.”
Detailing Trump’s many egregious, questionable, and likely criminal acts, the letter points out that the firing of Comey “is only the latest and most stunning example” of the President’s contempt for ethics and the rule of law. The Times concludes the letter with a pointed challenge to Rosenstein:
“Few public servants have found themselves with a choice as weighty as yours, between following their conscience and obeying a leader trying to evade scrutiny — Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, who behaved nobly in Watergate, come to mind. You can add your name to this short, heroic list. Yes, it might cost you your job. But it would save your honor, and so much more besides.”
Let’s hope Rosenstein chooses to do right by the American people.
Sheila Norton is a writer with ten years of Capitol Hill experience. Subscribe to the OD Action email to get all the hottest news delivered right to your inbox every day at www.odaction.com