Steven Rogers is a former senior U.S. Navy intelligence officer and member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force who also headed the criminal investigations division of a New Jersey Police department for almost two decades. Now, he’s on the board of President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign.
In this installment of “American Thought Leaders,” Rogers and Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek discuss special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, the efforts over the past several years to undermine the president, and how at least part of these efforts has amounted to a scandal bigger than Watergate.
Jan Jekielek: Steve, the Mueller report has now officially come out. And we know there was no Russia collusion there. We also know that there was insufficient evidence for obstruction charges. Give me your thoughts.
Steven Rogers: Well, we also know that no matter what came out in the Mueller report that the democratic socialists would never accept anything. And the reason why they would never accept the conclusion that we now have, is that their motive was always to bring down the president of the United States. There was never any motive on their part to do anything good for this nation. So they went to the extra lengths of just taking this right to the finish line. And keep in mind that many of the people who are now complaining about Attorney General [William] Barr and Mueller were pro-Mueller in the beginning, believing that he was going to find Russian collusion, believing that he was going to find obstruction. Well, they’ve got a big surprise, didn’t they?
Also, however, the democratic socialists and the mainstream media continue to feed the American people that there was, in fact, collusion and that there was in fact obstruction—without any evidence. And, look, I believe as many Americans believe that—short of finding the president guilty of collusion and obstruction—the Democrats would accept nothing. And now we see that they’re accepting absolutely nothing that Mueller did in order to bring this case to a conclusion. So at the end of the day, it backfired on the democratic socialists, it backfired on the mainstream media, and, indeed, we find there was, in fact, no collusion or obstruction.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you believe the media or the folks that are very interested in perpetuating this type of Russia collusion narrative will now turn on Mueller? I’ve seen people saying things like that.
Mr. Rogers: Well, of course. Look, the agenda has always been to get the president of the United States. The agenda was never to do what’s right for this country. We see people in the beginning of the Mueller investigation cheering his appointment. Now, they turn their back on him. Now, they’re not satisfied with the outcome. They’re condemning him for quote unquote punting the conclusion of obstruction to the attorney general’s office. So, yeah, I see the mainstream media. I do see the pundits and others and the democratic socialist party now turning on Mueller because they didn’t get the manufactured outcome that they expected to get.
Mr. Jekielek: You were saying that this investigation was designed to hurt the president, but it seems like it’s also actually hurt the nation.
Mr. Rogers: Well, it has hurt the nation. Look, if you’re a foreign leader and day in and day out, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, you’re hearing the mainstream media and members of the United States Congress advancing a false narrative—now, you don’t know it’s false, you’re in a foreign country, you don’t know truth from—or fact from fiction. How are you going to deal with the United States? How do you talk about treaties? How do you talk about economic development plan? So, as a foreign leader, you would be a little careful before you begin approaching the United States government on making any sort of economic, military, or foreign policy deals. It’s severely impacted the ability of our nation to move forward. But I want to make this point very clear—not at the fault of President Donald Trump, at the fault of the United States Congress. They stopped governing, and they put all their energy into one thing and that was to bring this president down.
Mr. Jekielek: And you actually live in a small community in New Jersey, relatively small compared to New York, for sure. What has the impact been on day-to-day life among folks who live around you of all this?
Mr. Rogers: That’s a great question because the impact has been minimal because the people—what I find very interesting—are focused on their quality of life. They’re focused on their taxes. They’re focused on raising their children and just living a good life in America. And they are, they know they are, as a result of the president’s policies. So when it comes to all that they see that’s going on regarding these investigations, they want to put a stop to it. They’re tired, they are numb to it. They just don’t want to see this go on and on and on for another two years and the democratic socialists are going to make sure this goes on. But I’ll tell you right now, it backfired already, and it’s going to get worse for them if they continue down this road of obstruction and destruction.
Mr. Jekielek: Attorney General Barr has suggested that he’s interested in looking at the genesis of this whole Russia collusion thing, trying to find out its origins, how it started, and so forth. What do you think about that?
Mr. Rogers: Well, as a criminal investigator myself for many years, you always try to look for a motive. What was the motive of this investigation? What was the motive of a Russia collusion investigation? And the motive was never really to help the United States of America. I don’t believe the motive was ever to find if there was, in fact, Russian interference in our elections. I’ll tell you why. Because they knew there was Russian interference. Obama knew when he was president and did nothing about it. So what was the motive? What were they trying to do? They were trying, again, to bring down this president. And the fact of the matter is, is that when you look at how they got the FISA warrants there were lies, there was a dossier that was connected to Clinton. There was fabricated evidence, if you will. Nothing we could find at all was substantial evidence to bring a conclusion that they wanted to bring, and that was evidence that there was collusion and that there was obstruction. So look, the president was soundly criticized for calling this a hoax. He was right.
Mr. Jekielek: And we do certainly know from the Mueller report that the Russians did interfere. What should we do now?
Mr. Rogers: Well, the president’s already taken actions against Russia. He certainly has sanctions against Russia. Don’t forget he expelled a good number of their people that were here working in their diplomatic corps. But what really bothers me, and I think bothers a lot of the American people, is: What did [President Barack] Obama do when he found out there was Russian interference? Nothing. And I bring that up only because I think that people need to understand the hypocrisy of all this. When you have a Congress that is looking to destroy a presidency, they’re going to go to great extents like they did here with President Trump. Why didn’t they take any action against President Obama? Why? He was their buddy. He was part of the crowd. Donald Trump, president of the United States, is not part of that establishment crowd. And that’s why, when a person will ask me, “Well, what should be done?” Well, he already took action, and I’m sure as time goes on, he’ll take some more tougher action against Russia as needed.
Mr. Jekielek: So Congressman [Jerrold] Nadler is basically subpoenaing a whole unredacted version of the Mueller report to Congress. What do you make of this?
Mr. Rogers: Well, my take on that is this: They are going to be subpoenaing a lot of people. They’re going to subpoena documents and records. They’re going to make a living out of committee hearings with regard to this particular investigation. The issue of unredacted information to the United States Congress, in my view, I wouldn’t trust the United States Congress with any of that information. There’ll be leaks. They could put people’s lives in jeopardy. And, look, I’ve said over and over again that one of the greatest threats we face in this country is a Congress that has failed the people. They have failed the people because they have failed to govern. Why have they failed to govern? Because they’re busy trying to bring up evidence that doesn’t exist. Creating an atmosphere in this country that would bring into question its own government. This is going to backfire on them and it’s going to backfire badly. So what do I make of it? It’s, again, the dog-and-pony show that they have given us for the past two years. They want to carry this on to the 2020 election. But the people are tired. It’s going to be an utter failure once again.
Mr. Jekielek: We’ve been hearing more and more about the investigators being investigated. Tell me more.
Mr. Rogers: All right. I believe from the beginning—in law enforcement, we have this term called the blue wall of silence—I believe in the beginning that, with regard to the FBI and the DOJ under the Obama administration, a lot more people in those agencies know a lot more than what we are being told. And so those people need to come out of the shadows, and they better come out of the shadows soon because once Attorney General Barr launches an investigation on those agencies in an effort to find out how we got where we are now, they’re going to be in serious trouble. How did we get here? How did they get information before a court and convince a judge, for example, to approve a FISA warrant on information that was really false, that was inaccurate? How did that happen? How did the investigators on Mueller’s team get appointed to his team, and you find out later there were communications about Hillary Clinton, about the Clinton campaign? How is it that James Comey conducted an investigation about Hillary Clinton’s server and emails? Nobody investigated it. Nobody went any further. Where are the 33,000 emails? Remember the bleaching of the server. How did she get a server with top-secret material in that server in her house? So this is why it’s critically important that the attorney general makes people accountable. And let me add this: The democratic socialists have said all along they want people accountable. They’re going to become accountable for the actions that they’re taking now, and those in those agencies I just mentioned are going to be accountable for the actions that they took or did not take with regard to true justice.
Mr. Jekielek: What needs to be investigated now, Steve?
Mr. Rogers: Well, first of all, the investigation has to begin with James Comey because he was head of the FBI. Who did he direct? Who did he supervise? How many people were involved, for example, in getting information to obtain a FISA warrant from the courts? I mean, we now know that a lot of that evidence was not true. It was not complete. It was inaccurate. So when we talk about investigating the investigators, you begin with Comey, [who] probably is going to have to be subpoenaed before a grand jury. And then we just watch the domino effect because he’s going to mention names and those people are going to mention names, and then this is going to go on and on and on right down to the last person—perhaps it’s an agent that is in obscurity. We don’t know. But that’s the next step regarding these investigations as we move forward.
Mr. Jekielek: Is it because Comey was responsible for the FBI?
Mr. Rogers: Oh, sure, yeah. Look, the buck stops on the top, OK? He was the director of the FBI. There’s a lot he knows that I’m sure that he didn’t tell us. I would hope that the investigation after interviewing him leads to Loretta Lynch, leads to Barack Obama, leads to the entire Obama Justice Department because I believe that Comey is not the lone actor, if you will, in this entire episode. I believe, and this is just my view based on how I know law enforcement works, that Loretta Lynch knows a lot. She was the attorney general at the time. So there’s nothing that went past anybody without eyes of all these people being on what was going on here.
Mr. Jekielek: Journalist Sara Carter has been saying that her sources in the intelligence community and in the Justice Department are saying that a lot of folks are very freaked out now that the Mueller report has been published and that they are almost turning on each other, going to be throwing each other under the bus, so to speak, with these investigations coming. What do you make of that?
Mr. Rogers: Well, here’s how this works. I’ll give you a bird’s eye view of how we investigators work. We start calling people in. So you have a couple of detectives or investigators in a room. You start asking them questions. And you make it very clear to them that they’re going to go to jail if they don’t tell the truth, that they’re facing stiff prison sentences. They start squirming in their seats. And as an investigator, you have enough experience to know just by their body language, by their behavior, that they know something and they’re not telling you. So you continue to conduct the investigation, continue to talk. And before you know it, they start singing like parrots, and they begin to flip on each other. So you’ll begin to see a domino effect. It’ll begin with one person who doesn’t want to go to prison, who may think you know something that’s going to get them in trouble. So they will start flipping on each other. And then maybe there will be forensic analysis of some electronic equipment that they used. Maybe there’ll be other ways to get the information out of them. But, sure, they’re nervous. They’re shaking in their pants because they know what they know, but they don’t know what the investigators know. And once the investigators come to them and share with them what they know, once they flip, as the president said: Game over.
Mr. Jekielek: That actually reminds me, one of the reasons that the attorney general identified for the redactions in the report is because of ongoing investigations. That’s one of the key reasons that there was a lot of redaction. What do you make of those potential investigations?
Mr. Rogers: Well, the attorney general did what he’s supposed to do. You certainly don’t want to compromise any ongoing investigations or future investigations. Those redactions could be names, places, sources—we don’t know. But I think he was very, very justifiable in making those redactions because we don’t know where all of this is going to lead. But we do know one thing. It’s never going to lead to the president of the United States again. It’s going to lead in other places and to other people who never expected that that road would lead right to their doorstep.
Mr. Jekielek: So what do you think the impact of this Mueller investigation has been on this country?
Mr. Rogers: Well, the mainstream media and the democratic socialist party have put a very, very depressing cloud over this nation. It’s been here for quite a long time. Based on what? Based on false narratives, manufactured stories. I mean, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever of the things that they were feeding the American people. So there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel. And you talked to me about journalism, you talked to me about what was being fed to the American people. And we’ve also talked about the attorney general now shedding light on the truth. So the fact of the matter is there was some light, and it just so happens that your publication really shed a lot of light on the truth from the beginning. And I think that’s very important to underscore because, where did the American people go? Where could they find truth? I mean, real, true, balanced reporting? They couldn’t find it anywhere. But I’ll tell you right now, and you know I’m a straight-shooter, when I picked up your publication and read what I read, I knew where we were going to find the truth. At least that’s something that I would really like to drive home to people. There were journalists out there doing their job correctly.
Mr. Jekielek: So you mentioned earlier that this has been perhaps more damaging to America or Americans than to the president.
Mr. Rogers: Well, because the president consistently defended himself. He had an opportunity to go out and tell the truth as he did and fight like a good fighter does. The American people had no chance to do that. I mean, he represented us, but what in the world … who can we go to? Who could John Doe, Main Street, USA, go to get comfort from all of the onslaught that they had received. So it damaged us internally. It’s certainly depressed the nation, certainly damaged our relationship, I believe, very quietly with some of the foreign leaders around the world who were questioning, “My God, what the heck is going on in the United States of America? Should we advance some of the economic policies we want to partner with the United States?” That’s where there was a lot of damage.
And let me say this also that what the democratic socialists did to this country, what the corrupt people did to this country was worse than Watergate. [With] Watergate, you had a group of burglars breaking into the Watergate building, and you had amateurs committing that criminal act. These were professional government employees in the FBI, in the Justice Department. I mean, this is what was so dangerous about this. These things don’t happen unless you are watching a TV show. This was reality. This was reality TV. And very, very dangerous. This is why the president has consistently said, “We must move forward and investigate how this happened so that it never happens again.”
Mr. Jekielek: I read another tweet last night and I thought I’d turn it into a question because I thought it was perfect. Freddy wrote, “It’s just so crazy that there are people that want the collusion to be true.” Want is in all caps. What kind of damage would that do you to our nation?
Mr. Rogers: Well, if there was collusion, it would do a lot of damage because the president of the United States has been elected to protect the people of the United States. The president of the United States is there to protect the integrity of our democracy. President Trump has done that. He’s protected the integrity of our democracy. He’s protected the American people. So to think that people would want to see the president guilty of collusion because their own selfish motive was to bring him down, they’ve got to realize they would have brought down a whole country. They would have hurt this country and, in effect, hurt themselves. So this is why Freddy is right. It’s crazy for people even to think that.
Thank God we had a president strong enough and wise enough to do the right thing. And here we are today. Look, people would ask me, “Well, you know, is the president celebrating? You know what he is celebrating? A victory for America. A victory for the American people. We knew all along there was no collusion and no obstruction. But, of course, when you’re fed a lie so many times as the American people were, it does bring some doubt in the minds of a lot of people in this country. Now there’s no doubt. So you know what? At the end of the day, thank God it worked out the way it did. It’s time to move on.
Mr. Jekielek: So what’s next for America? What would be a good outcome? You mentioned what you think will likely happen in coming days. What would you like to see happen going forward?
Mr. Rogers: Well, a great outcome would be if the United States Congress began to govern and just ended this because there’s no reason to move forward with this. But that’s not going to happen. So the outcome will be in the hands of the American people. We’ve got congressional elections coming. We have a presidential election coming. I would say to them: “Vote for the person who’s going to commit themselves to governing, whether they’re Democrat or Republican.” Look, I’m a Republican, but I’m not going to throw a pitch for the Republican Party on your network. I’m going to throw a pitch for the American process. Get involved. Run for office. But go vote. But vote for somebody who is going to look out for the best interests of the American people. They did that with President Trump. I do believe he’ll win by a landslide in 2020, but he needs help in the United States Congress. That’ll be the best outcome that we could ever really welcome.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.