D.C. awash in anonymous sources, deputy AG cautions against believing them
Rod Rosenstein issues statement through DOJ after Washington Post article
By TATIANA PROPHET
Washington -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in office for not even two months, has had more anonymous sources talking about him than any other official, possibly even President Donald Trump.
Rosenstein has been in the media's sights because, for one thing, he in charge of the Russia investigation at the Department of Justice due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal in that matter. But the deputy attorney general is also the boss of the director of the FBI.
And until May 11, when he wrote a letter to bolster President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein was also very well-liked by members of both parties.
Then not even a week after Comey's firing, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
How fitting then that the person most speculated about by anonymous sources would issue an official statement through his office cautioning the American people to be wary of anonymous allegations.
"The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations," the statement read.
Whatever could he have been contemplating?
Most likely, it was an article from the day before, on Wednesday in the Washington Post, which announced that the special counsel appointed by Rosenstein, Robert Mueller, was investigating possible obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump.
Why the language in Rosenstein's statement? Why does it matter that the Justice Department has a policy of neither confirming or denying anonymous reports? Well, while the office of the special counsel is by definition independent, it was still created under the auspices of the Justice Department. Therefore, knowledge of the situation would ostensibly be originating from the office of the special counsel, or, the Justice Department.
This would not be the first time the Washington Post has used anonymous sources. As most readers of news in the United States have noticed, the Washington Post has been driving the national conversation through the use of anonymous sources for at least the last three months.
Two out of the three above headlines have been proven false. The second story, which alleges that Rosenstein threatened to quit over how his role was characterized in the Comey firing, was disputed by the man himself on camera. The headline about James Comey asking for more funds was contradicted by the Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Yet rather than a correction of the many anonymous stories that have come out, the media focused on a tweet by the President from early Friday morning, in which he wrote:
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”
Most media outlets played the tweet completely straight, announcing that Donald Trump now believes he is under investigation! And several headlines (or sub-headlines) suggested that Rosenstein himself might be forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in light of his contribution to Comey's firing in the form of a memo. Most media sources assert that Rosenstein's memo was a pretext for firing Comey. Trump took responsibility for the firing on May 11 in an interview with Lester Holt, saying it was his decision, yet also stating that the reasons for the firing were obvious and were laid out by Rosenstein. Many in the media saw this interview as a smoking gun showing that Trump had said the reasons for firing Comey were the "Russia thing." The interview is convoluted: you decide (below).
Yet there may be another way to read the tweet: sarcasm. Should the President put a wink at the end of his sarcastic tweets? Not sure.
This scene gets more and more cryptic.