When the history books are written, Rod Rosenstein might just be the most interesting figure of the Russia investigation—the beleaguered deputy attorney general whose memo in his first days on the job was used to justify the firing of James Comey.
After that he quickly appointed Robert Mueller as the special counsel and spent the following year supervising his investigation while under immense pressure from President Trump and congressional wolves seeking to undermine his credibility, even impeach him.
As congressional Republicans have sought to undermine the Justice Department’s integrity and independence, Rosenstein has made numerous short-term, tactical concessions to his critics, bending traditional rules and handing over documents to Congress about confidential sources and ongoing investigations—compromises that previous administrations would never have made.
Why would anyone put up with the abuse, vitriol, and daily haranguing from the president’s Twitter account that Rosenstein has endured? Why would Rosenstein seemingly set precedents that undermine the core principles of the Justice Department, an institution that he’s devoted nearly his entire career to serving?
I have a simple theory: In a world of hedgehogs and foxes, Rosenstein today is the ultimate hedgehog.
Rosenstein knows one very big, monumental, history-shaping thing—how Trump’s presidency will end—and he’s wagered that if he can hang on long enough, justice will be done and the good guys, in his eyes, will win. His early actions, around Comey’s firing, will be vindicated by history when seen by the light of his bravery and personal sacrifice and refusal to be bullied into quitting, a move that would almost surely lead to Mueller’s investigation being shut down or circumscribed by whichever Trump appointee takes over supervising it next. [Continue reading…]