Democrats are attacking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s credibility after the Department of Justice released text messages showing a top FBI agent on both the Clinton email investigation and the Russia probe rooting for Clinton while he was investigating her and discussing an unknown “insurance policy” against Trump in case he won the election.
The pro-Clinton, anti-Trump messages were, ironically, discovered as part of an investigation into the DOJ and FBI launched by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (IG) in response to Democratic politicians demanding a probe into possible anti-Clinton bias at the FBI.
Democratic politicians and left-wing media have attacked Rosenstein’s credibility in response, claiming he should have blocked the messages’ release. (RELATED: ‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — FBI Officials Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Presidency)
Democratic Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, one of 58 House Democrats to vote in favor of impeaching Trump, attacked Rosenstein and the Department of Justice on the House floor on Thursday.
Raskin claimed the release of the text messages shows “that there are people in the Department of Justice who apparently are cooperating with this effort to undermine the integrity and the strength of this special counsel investigation.”
The DOJ, Raskin argued, should have withheld the damning messages, which were exchanged on taxpayer-funded cell phones.
Raskin said “the key thing to understand is that all of those text messages are totally irrelevant” and claimed they were nothing more than political opinions.
Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Mother Jones on Wednesday that the messages “are being used for propaganda purposes.” She added: “I think there’s an ongoing effort to malign both Bob Mueller and the work that that Special Counsel Office is doing. They are grabbing at every single thing to try to demean him.”
The text messages go well beyond simple political opinions and are part of a larger pattern of bias on Mueller’s team. (RELATED: Top Senate Republican Wants DOJ To Twist Screws On Probe Into FBI Deputy Director McCabe
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley noted that some of the texts “appear to go beyond merely expressing a private political opinion, and appear to cross the line into taking some official action to create an ‘insurance policy’ against a Trump presidency.”
Benjamin Wittes, a staunch ally of former FBI director James Comey, claimed in a blog post that the text messages’ publication were part of “a partisan circus.”
Wittes is a close friend of Comey and has been one of his strongest public defenders since he was fired as FBI director. In May, Wittes relayed that Comey had “concerns” about Rosenstein as assistant attorney general. Now, as an internal DOJ investigation sheds light on a troubled FBI under Comey, Wittes is ramping up the attacks on Rosenstein.
“Rosenstein here has, at a minimum, contributed to that circus—at the expense of his own employees. In throwing a career FBI agent and career FBI lawyer to the wolves by authorizing the release to the public of their private text messages—without any finding that they had done anything wrong—he once again sent a message to his workforce that he is not the sort of man with whom you want to share your foxhole,” Wittes wrote on his LawFare blog.
He added a warning: “The DOJ and FBI workforces will not forget that. Nor should they.” (RELATED: Schumer: Intelligence Community May ‘Get Back At’ Trump For Tweet [VIDEO])
Journalists circulated Wittes’ criticism of Rosenstein on social media and left-wing pundits echoed his points.
“These were government documents – texts on government devices. So the formal privacy claim is limited,” Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall conceded, before arguing: “But let’s be honest. It’s still a massive breach of privacy. Political and personal chit chat and sounding off between two lovers?”
That the DOJ released some of the Strzok texts, Marshall argued, showed that Rosentstein had become “bent and deformed.”
Marshall didn’t note that the DOJ released just a small fraction of the Strzok-Page messages and redacted personal details in the messages it did release.
Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who has praised Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his handling of the Russia investigation, said last week that the Strzok scandal reflects “disarray” at the FBI “that is left over from the Comey era.”
In his testimony on Wednesday, Rosenstein said the DOJ “consulted with the inspector general to determine that he had no objection to releasing the material” before doing so. “If he had, we would not have released it,” Rosenstein said.
A report on the IG’s findings is expected sometime in the spring.
Democrats had previously praised both Rosenstein and the IG probe.
“I think Rosenstein is 100 percent honorable, and I think Mueller is a 100 percent professional,” Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told Politico in June. “And you know, Mueller has to report to somebody. I’d rather have it be Rosenstein than anybody else I can think of in the department, particularly with [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions recused.”
Democrats were similarly more receptive to the IG’s probe when they suspected anti-Clinton bias at the FBI.
“In our committee one of the things that we say is that we have integrity, and of all the organizations that we have, the FBI is the one that we must have trusted,” Democratic Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings told reporters in January following news of the IG probe.
“And I think this investigation by the IG, I don’t know what it will reveal, but you know I think we need to go through that process, because if we’re not careful we will reach a crisis of legitimacy with regard to the very fabric of our country and the fabric–when I say the fabric, I’m talking about organizations like the CIA, FBI and others.”