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November 18, 2018

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EDITORIAL:

As Rosenstein says, Americans must think patriotically, not politically

With a few calmly delivered yet thunderously powerful remarks Friday, Rod Rosenstein delivered a triumphant moment for American patriotism.

It came when the embattled deputy attorney general, while announcing the latest round of indictments stemming from the Mueller investigation, defended the Justice Department’s actions and issued a call for unity in protecting the integrity of U.S. elections and prosecuting those who meddle in them. His remarks were a stirring tribute to American ideals and values.

“When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it’s important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats, but instead think patriotically as Americans,” Rosenstein said. “Our response must not depend on which side was victimized.”

He went on to say: “Free and fair elections are always hard-fought and contentious. There will always be adversaries who seek to exacerbate our divisions and try to confuse, divide and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.”

Rosenstein’s performance was nothing short of heroic — a much-needed reminder that genuinely patriotic Americans are defending the nation’s ideals and values with an unwavering commitment.

Here was a man who has been subjected to grossly unfair attacks for months by President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters, some of whom have gone so far as to float the idea of impeaching him despite the fact that the Mueller investigation has produced well over 100 criminal charges against more than two dozen individuals. The House even took action aimed at humiliating Rosenstein, passing a resolution calling on the Justice Department to comply with congressional document requests even though the department has made extensive efforts to produce the material.

But Rosenstein, to his credit, hasn’t buckled. And thank goodness for that, as Friday’s round of indictments again proved the vital need for the investigation to continue. Among the details: the 12 defendants are members of the Russian federation intelligence agency GRU who were acting in their official capacities, stole information on about 500,000 voters and “hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information.”

This is no “witch hunt,” as Trump has described the investigation.

So, given the fact that Trump has continued to describe it as such even after he was briefed on the latest indictments, Republicans need to act.

Rosenstein represents the bulwark of true American virtue and true American patriotism that stands against anyone — foreign or domestic — who would tear apart this nation’s core values.

We implore GOP lawmakers in Congress to join him in this cause. History is watching and history will judge, and to this point Republicans have failed to rise to the call to defend our nation. It’s not too late for them to stand tall and do their duty.

• • •

Following is a transcript of Rosenstein’s full remarks:

I’d caution you that people who speculate about federal special investigations usually do not know all of the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from the government officials who are actually conducting these investigations.

We follow the rule of law, which means that we follow procedures and we reserve judgement. We complete our investigations and we evaluate all of the relevant evidence before we reach any conclusion.

That’s how the American people expect their Department of Justice to operate, and that is how our department is going to operate.

In our justice system, anyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. It should go without saying that people who are not charged with a crime also are presumed innocent.

The indictment was returned today because prosecutors determined that the evidence was sufficient to present these allegations to a federal grand jury. Our analysis is based solely on the facts, the law and Department of Justice policies.

I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The president is fully aware of the department’s actions today.

In my remarks, I have not identified the victims. When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it’s important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats, but instead think patriotically as Americans.

Our response must not depend on which side was victimized. The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack Americans in new and unexpected ways.

Free and fair elections are always hard-fought and contentious. There will always be adversaries who seek to exacerbate our divisions and try to confuse, divide and conquer us. So long as we are united in our commitment to the values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed.

The partisan warfare fueled by modern technology does not fairly reflect the grace, dignity and unity of the American people. The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who committed election interference. We need to work together to hold the perpetrators accountable, and we need to keep moving forward to preserve our values, protect against future interference and defend America.