Rosenstein Asks Prosecutors to Help With Kavanaugh Nomination

In a highly unusual but not unprecedented move, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a frequent target of Donald Trump’s angry and ignorant sputtering, has asked all 93 U.S. Attorneys to provide three assistants from their office to help handle the huge paper trail of rulings, speeches and law review articles from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. This would presumably take them away from their regular work as prosecutors.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to help review the government documents of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday.

Mr. Rosenstein’s request was an unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement. While the Justice Department has helped work on previous Supreme Court nominations, department lawyers in Washington typically carry out that task, not prosecutors who pursue criminal investigations nationwide.

But in an email sent this week to the nation’s 93 United States attorneys, Mr. Rosenstein asked each office to provide up to three federal prosecutors “who can make this important project a priority for the next several weeks.” Names were to be submitted to Mr. Rosenstein’s office by the end of Wednesday.

I wouldn’t read too much into this. Here’s what I suspect is going on behind the scenes. First, Kavanaugh’s documents really are incredibly large for a Supreme Court nominee, having written more than 300 opinions on the federal bench, in addition to his many speeches, law review articles, memos and briefs as a government attorney. Trump clearly wants to speed this nomination through and so does the Republican leadership in the Senate, so they demanded an “all hands on deck” to meet what will surely be flood of demands for those documents and for analysis of them.

Rosenstein is in a difficult position here. He knows that if he is not in his position, Trump will be able to essentially cancel, or at the very least narrow, the Mueller investigation, so he has to be careful not to give Trump an excuse to fire him that isn’t connected to that investigation. So I suspect he’s going along with this in order to protect that investigation by keeping his job. And that’s a wise move, I think.

Yes, it will take the attention of some prosecutors away from trying cases for a few weeks, but if each US Attorneys Office allots three people, that’s less than 300 out of some 5500 Assistant US Attorneys, so it’s not really that big a deal.

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