President addresses midterms rally in Springfield, Missouri but does not discuss reports on deputy AG Rosenstein
Donald Trump issued an ominous warning about the justice department and the FBI on Friday night, promising more firings to rid a lingering stench after reports that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording the president.
At a political rally in Missouri, Trump did not explicitly mention the Rosenstein story that was first reported by the New York Times and confirmed by other outlets. But the president lashed out against what he perceives as anti-Trump bias in the justice department and cited the firings he already has orchestrated.
The dismissals have unnerved many in federal law enforcement and raised fears about the future of the special counsels Russia investigation, which Rosenstein oversees.
Youve seen what happened in the FBI and the Department of Justice, Trump said. The bad ones, theyre all gone. Theyre all gone. But there is a lingering stench and were going to get rid of that, too.
One person present during Rosensteins remarks said he was being sarcastic. The Times also said Rosenstein raised the idea of using the 25th amendment to remove Trump as unfit for office. Rosenstein said the story is inaccurate and factually incorrect.
It was the latest storm to buffet the White House in another brutal week.
Trumps former fixer, Michael Cohen, is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has backed off his plan to declassify documents related to that investigation. And the porn star Stormy Daniels has a book out next month that, as the Guardian first reported this week, contains descriptions of sex with Trump and efforts by subordinates including Cohen to silence her. Trump denies an affair with Daniels but has admitted reimbursing Cohen for a payment made to her.
The fate of Trumps supreme court nominee, Brett Kavanagh, also remains uncertain. Negotiations are continuing with the Senate judiciary committee about a possible appearance by Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a high-school party more than three decades ago.
Trump made the future of Kavanaugh and the federal judiciary a centerpiece of his rally in Springfield, which was designed to support Missouris attorney general, Josh Hawley, in his race against Democratic senator Claire McCaskill.
I dont know who she is with but she is not with the state of Missouri, Trump said. [Kavanaugh] is a fantastic man, a fantastic man. She wont vote for him.
Trump, who used Twitter earlier on Friday to cast doubt on Fords claim, preached optimism on Kavanaugh, saying he was born for the US supreme court and reassuring the crowd that its going to happen. Its going to happen.
He added: We have to fight for him, not worry about the other side. And by the way, women are for that more than anybody would understand.
When Hawley praised Trumps judicial picks, the crowd began chanting Kavanaughs name.
The reports about Rosenstein created even greater uncertainty about his future at a time when Trump has lambasted justice department leadership and publicly humiliated both Rosenstein and attorney general Jeff Sessions.
More broadly, its the latest revelation that could affect Mueller, who is investigating possible coordination between Russia and Trumps presidential campaign in 2016.
To Trumps dismay, Sessions stepped aside from that issue soon after he took office, and it was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller. Trump has resisted calls from conservative commentators to fire both Sessions and Rosenstein and appoint someone who would ride herd more closely on Mueller or dismiss him.
A number of key FBI officials, including director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, have been fired since Trump took office.
Republicans view the McCaskill-Hawley contest as one of their best chances of flipping a seat in the Senate, where the GOP has a 51-49 majority. Polls show the race is a toss-up.
Democrats are hoping the enthusiasm thats put the GOP-led House in play will spill over to the Senate, though the political map there is much tougher. McCaskill is among 10 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election in states Trump won some by wider margins than in Missouri.
On Thursday, Trump was in Nevada to campaign for Dean Heller, among the Republican incumbents considered to be the most vulnerable in the 6 November election.
With the chances of Republicans keeping control of the House looking increasingly difficult, the White House has fixated on keeping the Senate as a bulwark against any Democratic effort to impeach and then remove Trump from office.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us