According to the Washington Post:
Stephen K. Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with some members of President Trump’s circle, is pitching a plan to West Wing aides and congressional allies to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
The first step, these people say, would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the work of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and in recent days signed off on a search warrant of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen.
Bannon is also recommending the White House cease its cooperation with Mueller, reversing the policy of Trump’s legal team to provide information to the special counsel’s team and to allow staff members to sit for interviews.
And he is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.
One thing this means is that Bannon must think things are pretty bad if it’s time to go into stonewall mode. This comports with Bannon’s fighting instincts, but he also brings strong powers of analysis to bear that don’t always involve confrontation. Remember, he was the one who counseled against firing former FBI Director James Comey, which helped make matters much worse for Trump.
I can’t say what the best strategy is here, I’m not an attorney, and frankly, neither is Bannon. But I will say, generally speaking, that Trump needs to do what Clinton did when his presidency was threatened: Shut up about this whole affair, hire a great team of lawyers, have aides and attorneys dedicated to this effort who speak on TV and talk privately to the press, and get a bunch of people outside the White House to spin for you on TV.
I was there covering Clinton during that time, and it was very effective. Apparently, Bannon advocated for such an approach when he was at the White House, at least according to the Michael Wolff book.
Firing Rosenstein is going to feel great for Trump. I think at this point, just for the sake of his mental well being, Trump needs to fire someone.
And it seems to me that allowing the police to seize all the records of the president’s attorney, which is what Rosenstein did, should have been a pretty high bar. Attorneys, especially government attorneys, are by their nature stuck in the weeds of the law. They do things “by the book” without thinking about broader ramifications.
The problem here is that firing Rosenstein will start to alienate Republicans and bring back memories of Nixon, who also fired Justice Department officials. So I don’t know whether it is a useful thing at this point. But Bannon is offering strong tactics for a situation that, apparently, now requires them, and Trump and his team ought to give him a listen.