Did Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein threaten to retaliate against Rep. Devin Nunes?

Fox News’ political analyst Gregg Jarrett announced on Sean Hannity’s show last night that “a congressional source” had told him Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein threatened to retaliate against Rep. Devin Nunes, author of the controversial memo released this week. Here’s the brief announcement which came as Hannity was closing out a segment:

This morning, Jarrett tweeted about the topic, adding that a 2nd source had now confirmed the claim:

There are plenty of questions we could ask about this: Who are the sources? Are they known partisans who are speaking up to defend Rep. Nunes? Would they be in a position to know this directly or did they get it second hand? Was Rosenstein making a threat or was it some kind of joke meant to relieve the tension. Don’t forget, we had a couple days devoted to a text about the “secret society” mentioned in Strzok-Page text messages and now pretty much everyone agrees that looks like it was a joke. In short, can this account of what Rosenstein said be trusted?

There are partisans on both sides of this who seem intent on reading every bit of data as if it either confirms their prior suppositions or it is a lie being peddled by their opponents. I think it’s not entirely clear who is telling the truth, or more of the truth, here. On the one hand, the FBI, the DOJ, and the Democrats really have been brazenly overselling how dangerous the release of this memo would be. As Prof. Jonathan Turley pointed out yesterday, we were warned of serious consequences to national security. But now that we see it, that doesn’t seem to be the case. This story about Rod Rosenstein making threats to prevent the release does seem to fit into that same narrative of desperation, i.e. willingness to say almost anything to block the memo. I don’t know if Jarrett’s story is true or accurate but in the current environment of near-panic, it seems somewhat plausible.

On the other hand, as I’ve pointed out this week, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is the person overseeing the Mueller Special Counsel investigation. Because AG Sessions recused himself, it will fall to Rosenstein to determine how Mueller’s final report on the Russia investigation is disseminated. It seems that Trump would like an excuse to fire Rosenstein and, as Allahpundit noted yesterday, outside Tea Party groups are now targeting Rosenstein with attack ads. So you get the impression that, suddenly, there is a big push to get rid of the guy. Is this leak to Gregg Jarrett part of that push, i.e. the story which makes Rosenstein a real villain abusing his office? It sort of looks that way to me. It’s almost too perfect.

So what is going on? What we seem to have is a pitched battle in which both sides are using something akin to information warfare, i.e. dubious claims (‘This threatens national security!’, ‘He threatened retaliation!’) intended to convince the public that the other guys are acting beyond the pale. At this point, I’m definitely not willing to settle for the Democrats’ explanation of what is going on here which basically boils down to ‘Trump is guilty as hell and the GOP is trying to distract us from that.’ It could be true, but a year into this investigation we haven’t seen the proof.

But I’m also not ready to settle for the right’s take, i.e. this is all a deep state conspiracy to take down the president. It could be true, but again I’m not seeing the proof. I don’t think the Nunes memo was any kind of knockout punch, which I suspect is why Hannity is promising this is just 15% of what is yet to come. He sounds just like the Democrats claiming the next collusion bombshell will be the big one.

It does seem as if people on both sides of this are looking to hide something or protect someone. If I had to guess who is telling us the whole truth about what is really going on here, my guess right at this moment would be no one. Ultimately, I don’t think this merry-go-round will stop until Mueller stops it and puts out some facts to settle some of the speculation.