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Justice Department Officials Announce Charges Against HSBC
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: A US Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference to announce money laundering charges against HSBC on December 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. HSBC Holdings plc and HSBC USA NA have agreed to pay $1.92 billion and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in regards to charges involving money laundering with Mexican drug cartels.Ramin Talaie / Getty Images

The Forrest Gump of recent Trump scandals succeeds Barr at DOJ

It's worth celebrating Bill Barr's exit. It's also worth worrying about his acting successor as attorney general - a Forrest Gump-like figure.


If you've ever seen the film Forrest Gump, you know it tells the story of a simple man who manages to be near the center of many historically significant events. George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door? There's Forrest. The Vietnam War? There's Forrest. Break-in at the Watergate? There's Forrest.

As Attorney General Bill Barr prepares to exit the Justice Department, he'll be succeeded by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who sort of reminds me of Forrest Gump -- not in his proximity to memorable events, but in his proximity to Trump-era scandals from the last few years. The New York Times reported this week:

Mr. Rosen has kept a low profile, but with Attorney General William P. Barr's pending resignation, he is set to be the nation's top law enforcement official for the delicate final month of Mr. Trump's presidency. It will be an extraordinary responsibility for a man who has no prosecutorial experience — and who has participated in several decisions in which the department took steps that favored the president's friends or punished his perceived enemies.

The key word in that last sentence is "several."

Rachel had a segment on Tuesday's show about Rosen's recent work, which I hope you saw because it told quite a tale. For example, when Donald Trump executed an extortion scheme against Ukraine, the inspector general of the intelligence community referred the matter to the Justice Department, suspecting that the president may have committed multiple felonies. There was Jeffrey Rosen, helping lead the effort to quash the investigation.

And when Team Trump sought retribution against Andrew McCabe, there was Jeffrey Rosen, trying to force an indictment against the former acting FBI director.

And when the Justice Department's political leaders decided to intervene in the prosecution against Roger Stone, there was Jeffrey Rosen, reviewing the work of career prosecutors.

And when Team Trump sought retribution against John Bolton, there was Jeffrey Rosen, helping lead the case against the former White House national security advisor as his book was poised to appear on shelves.

And when former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, there was Jeffrey Rosen, making sure the scandal-plagued cabinet secretary wasn't charged.

And when Paul Manafort was arrested, there was Jeffrey Rosen, intervening with prison officials and ensuring that the president's former campaign manager wouldn't have to go to the jail on Rikers Island.

And when Team Trump was infuriated with social-justice protestors over the summer, there was Jeffrey Rosen, writing a memo encouraging prosecutors to be aggressive in prosecuting activists, possibly even charging them with "sedition."

And as Barr departs from the administration, there's Jeffrey Rosen again, this time taking over as the nation's attorney general for the final month of Trump's presidency.

Forrest Gump had a relatively happy ending. Whether the same can be said of Rosen's control of the Justice Department remains to be seen.