BOSTON (CBS) – Rod Rosenstein’s days as deputy attorney general may be numbered. But his fate is really a sideshow to a bigger issue:
Will the White House try to shut down or muzzle the Mueller investigation?
Keep in mind, it’s not a sure bet that we’ll ever learn what Mueller’s probe has found.
A notorious stickler for following procedures, Mueller has allowed negotiations over testimony by President Trump to drag on for months rather than defy Justice Department policy against subpoenaing the president. There is no requirement that his findings be made public, or be provided to Congress, only that he report in confidence to his boss, which for now is Rosenstein.
The other night at a rally, Mr. Trump referred to “a lingering stench” at the Justice Department and vowed to “get rid of” it.
Still, it’s uncertain if Rosenstein’s departure would necessarily lead to an effort to fire Mueller, something the president was reportedly talked out of doing last year.
But the political toll such a sequence would take is more clear.
In a new Fox News poll, a solid majority of voters – 57 percent – approve of Mueller’s work and say they want him to take his time and do it right.
“They shouldn’t fire Rosenstein unless they believe Rosenstein’s lying, he said he did not do the things alleged,” says Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a sentiment echoed even by the likes of Fox News Trump-whisperer Sean Hannity.
There’s a reason why many Trump allies are urging caution.
Remember – it wasn’t the facts of the Watergate burglary that brought Richard Nixon down. It was the cover-up and obstruction of justice that so eroded his political support, actual impeachment wasn’t even necessary in the end.