According to a Bloomberg headline which instantly sent the Dow Jones 100 points higher from intraday lows, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t the target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
- ROSENSTEIN SAID TO TELL TRUMP HE'S NOT TARGET OF MUELLER PROBE
As Bloomberg adds, Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, "offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday," a development that helped tamp down the president’s president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, and probably explains why Trump hasn't gone postal yet following the raid last week of his personal attorney Michael Cohen.
After the Rosenstein meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.
The news also helped send risk assets sharply higher as it would suggest the risk of impeachment - if the Bloomberg report is accurate - is far lower.
The report confirms what Comey told Trump all along: recall that back in March 2017, former FBI director Comey told Trump in private he wasn’t a target in the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Comey wrote in his new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” that Trump repeatedly asked him to help lift “the cloud” hanging over him by publicly announcing he wasn’t under investigation.
As is well-known by now, Comey also refused to make a public announcement, writing that “the FBI and Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most important that it would create a duty to correct that statement should that status change.”
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If the Bloomberg report is true, it begs the question: so who is the target of Mueller's probe?
And, parallel to that, many have also asked just what is the point of Mueller's ongoing probe, which continues to cost taxpayers millions of dollars, a year and a half after Hillary Clinton's humiliating loss in the presidential election.
To be sure, there is the distinct possibility that either Trump misunderstood what Rosenstein told him, or the Deputy AG simply lied. To be sure, far more bizarre events have taken place in the US in the past 18 months.
Truthful or not, however, the alleged shift gives breathing room for Mueller, as well as Rosenstein, who has been criticized strongly by House Republicans for being slow to comply with requests for classified documents. Last week’s meeting was set up in part to allow Rosenstein to assuage Trump’s frustration with his decisions.
Of course, there is the loophole that, as Bloomberg points out, Rosenstein’s message may have been based on a technicality, and while Trump may not officially be a target now, Mueller hasn’t ruled out making him one at some point in the future, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the unfolding investigation.
During a Wedensday press conference, Trump - who still hasn’t ruled out removing Rosenstein and Mueller at some point - signaled his shift in approach responding to a reporter’s question about their fate by saying they are “still here.”
“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”
Pres. Trump on firing Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein: "They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months—and they're still here." https://t.co/ie43Kyej6y pic.twitter.com/fhQUleC9Xj— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 19, 2018
In some ways this news, if true, would be anticlimatic and somewhat disappointing for a daily narrative that has led to so much outrage on both sides of the political aisle since the fall of 2016. Which is why we are confident that this is hardly the full story, and "something" will emerge in the coming weeks or days that - surprise - makes Trump the target of the probe.
And judging by the stock market's lack of enthusiasm to rise more on the news - the S&P is already fading much of the move - we are not the only ones who think so.