Not now, anyway. The long-awaited meeting between Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will take place today on Air Force One, two weeks to the day after he was supposedly on his way to the unemployment office. The long delay made it clear that neither man was eager to make a change, and Trump seemingly confirmed it before getting on Marine One for a trip to Florida. Rosenstein will meet with the president on the flight rather than at the White House:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is flying Monday with President Donald Trump on Air Force One to a police chiefs’ conference in Florida and the president said before leaving that he has no plans to fire the overseer of special counsel Robert Mueller’s invesitgation.
“No, I don’t,” Trump responded when asked if he planned to remove Rosenstein.
“Looking forward to being with him,” he added. “We’ll be talking on the plane. I have a good relationship other than there’s been no collusion.”
It sure seems like a good sign that the two of them will fly together on Air Force One. Maybe the media can double-check to see if the plane lands with Rosenstein still on it. If Rosenstein has to do a D.B. Cooper somewhere over Georgia, then we can assume the meeting didn’t go well. It almost goes without saying that you don’t plan to fire someone during an airplane flight where neither party can get away.
This need for this meeting seems almost ancient at this point. More than three weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Rosenstein had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump, and also that he had instructed colleagues to tape record any conversations with the president. Rosenstein flat-out denied the former, and others in the room said the latter was meant sarcastically. Before Democrats and the media launched an all-out attack on Brett Kavanaugh, however, this was the Constitutional Crisis Du Jour, and supposedly Rosenstein felt compromised enough by it to offer his resignation to John Kelly.
It’s still enough of an issue that the House will call on Rosenstein to testify about it, but it dropped off the radar in the Kavanaughcalypse. The fury of that fight has apparently put the Rosenstein kerfuffle in its proper perspective, at least on Trump’s part. It’d be insane at this point to fire Rosenstein anyway, given the proximity to the midterms. Better to ride the wave of enthusiasm generated by the backlash to the Kavanaugh smear campaign than to set up a competing wave of outrage that could bury it in the headlines.
Trump sensed that today, too. He had plenty to say about the Kavanaughcalypse, calling it a “disgrace” while accusing Democrats of having “really tortured him and his family”:
.@POTUS: "[Kavanaugh is] going to be a great justice of the Supreme Court. The way they really tortured him and his family, I thought was a disgrace." https://t.co/KiG73zuS7J pic.twitter.com/VPyGXRZhzg
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 8, 2018
As for the idea of investigating and impeaching Kavanaugh after the midterms, Trump tells Democrats that they’re only making it easier for voters:
"I have been hearing that now they are thinking of impeaching a brilliant jurist and a man who did nothing wrong … and I think it is an insult to the American public," @POTUS says https://t.co/KiG73zuS7J pic.twitter.com/Y6t3bgpixI
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 8, 2018
Republicans look likely to shove impeachment down Democrats’ throats this cycle. Perhaps Democrats should recall just how that worked out for Republicans twenty years ago.
Update: The plane has landed, and no one pushed Rosenstein out over Georgia, Roll Call reports:
Rod Rosenstein, despite reports he discussed secretly taping President Donald Trump with the goal or removing him from office, is still the deputy attorney general after the two men spoke aboard Air Force One.
The senior Justice Department official joined Trump on the executive jet on the way to Orlando, where the president is addressing law enforcement officials. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters traveling with Trump that the duo talked for 30 minutes during the flight to Florida.
Asked if Rosenstein still has the job, Gidley replied, “Yes.”
That means Rosenstein is still overseeing the Justice Department’s Russia election meddling probe that has so riled Trump. For now, at least.
But will he have to fly back to DC on his own dime?