This is a story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling on the House general counsel to investigate the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), but I want to talk about how this started.
I want to talk about how it started because these new details tell us much about what's been happening behind scenes over the last several months.
House Republicans including Devin Nunes have repeatedly threatened to impeach or hold Rosenstein in contempt for months because he wouldn't hand over sensitive documents that could compromise ongoing investigations.
Citing congressional staffers, Fox News recently reported that Rosenstein threatened to investigate congressional Republicans and their staff, but it looks like Rosenstein was merely standing up for himself.
Justice Department officials dispute the recounting of the closed-door meeting detailed in the story, and Rosenstein now plans to "request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers' conduct" when he returns from a foreign trip this week, a Justice Department official said.
"The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation," the official said. "The FBI Director, the senior career ethics adviser for the Department, and the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs who were all present at this meeting are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false.
"The Deputy Attorney General was making the point -- after being threatened with contempt -- that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false," the official added. "That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so."
I suppose you could call this a threat if you're a congressional staffer who has something to hide and I'm sure Devin Nunes and his staff have plenty to hide.
It's good to know that Rosenstein has forcefully stood up for himself in private because he has rarely done so in public and I imagine this is why Republicans have backed away from calling for Rosenstein's head.
Republicans who worked themselves into a frenzy over Trump's fake "spy" scandal and other bogus revelations have fallen silent ever since their last meeting with Rosenstein.