WDC was fortuitous in having MSNBC legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg as our luncheon speaker at Normandie Farm on April 18 since the Mueller report had just been released that morning. He began his remarks by emphasizing the importance of the rule of law, both to him personally, and as an overarching principle. Rosenberg spent most of his professional life at the Justice Department. His extensive legal and government experience includes such positions as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and counsel to FBI director Robert Mueller.
Taking the long view, he proclaimed the rule of law to be at risk but not grave risk. Rosenberg cited a study that showed our country’s trajectory as an upward sloping line. However, historically that line has included some jagged dips, representing such disgraceful incidents as the Japanese internment. Despite the fact that he feels that we are in a troubling period, he does feel that we will be okay.
Rosenberg was appointed to the Justice Department by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He believes that the concept of the rule of law means that those who work for the Department must leave their politics aside once they arrive at work, and also that they not only need to be fair, but must maintain the appearance of fairness. He is concerned about the perception of unfairness among segments of the population because it undermines the Department’s authority and respect for the institution.
Although he had just recently received the Mueller report, he said that we know for sure that it proves that Russia attacked our democracy, though our election apparatus seems to be intact. The question now is what we do with the report, which is in two sections (1) Russian interference and (2) obstruction of justice. Although Rosenberg does not himself believe that Article II of the U.S. Constitution precludes the President’s being prosecuted, he thinks Mueller and his team probably proceeded in line with this concept.
Rosenberg answered a number of questions including the topics of Russia, Attorney General Barr, and impeachment, to name a few. With regard to Russia, he said that the report increases our knowledge about Russian interference in our election so that the Department of Homeland Security can better safeguard our election security. As for Attorney General Barr, he has always considered Barr a “principled institutionalist,” but he has reassessed because of his use of the word “spying,” a characterization that demeans the FBI. As far as impeachment is concerned, he noted that the Constitution leaves us with only two choices in dealing with a rogue President: elections and impeachment. Rosenberg agrees with Former FBI Director James Comey that defeating President Trump in an election would be better for our country than an impeachment process that many could challenge as political.
Thanks to Carla Holt for facilitating Mr. Rosenberg’s appearance at our luncheon.