It’s a cliché to say that someone had a “checkered career.” It’s more appropriate to point out that Rob Rosenstein’s resignation ended a “3D chess game” in his role as United States deputy attorney general.
At the end of April, Rosenstein submitted his resignation, effective on May 11.
A variety of adjectives can be applied to Rosenstein: self-serving, self-protective, filled with ethical promise, not exactly disgraceful, but not graceful either, anything but heroic,” according to constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe.
In an anxiety-laden conversation with fellow bureaucrats about Trump’s presidency, Rosenstein was quoted as saying, “Maybe I could wear a wire, they don’t check me when I go in, and tape the president, would that work?”
His resignation letter addressed to the president was in sharp contrast:
“I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens’. … We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first.”
He assured Trump: “I give the (Mueller) investigation credibility. I can land the plane.”
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote “No one in the saga of the Mueller report has gone through so many shifts in public perception or gone through such wild swings in his professional reputation.
For a time he was “the darling of Democrats, seeming to hold back the tide against interference with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe.”
She wrote, “A mortal blow to Rosenstein’s reputation among legal observers, former Justice officials and Democrats was his supporting a grossly misleading letter drafted by Attorney General William P. Barr and standing mutely and awkwardly at Barr’s side when he delivered even more misleading remarks to the press.”
Rosenstein adopted a frozen poker face, designed to display no emotions whatsoever.
Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah said, “We can’t have faith in decisions he’s made. For him to cite Trump as a defender of the rule given the damage he has done to the DOJ and FBI as institutions is shameful.”
“Legal observers had their suspicions about Rosenstein from the start,” Rubin said. “How did he get roped into writing a memo that served as the phony excuse for firing then-FBI Director James B. Comey? Why didn’t he recuse himself once it became apparent he was witness to a possible obstruction-of-justice case?”
We suggest that he write a book to straighten out the back-and-forth path he followed in his most recent job.