Rosenstein expecting to lose job, heads to White House
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein headed to the White House Monday expecting to lose his job, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The development followed revelations that Rosenstein had made comments critical of President Donald Trump, including discussing possibly secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution to have the Cabinet remove him from office,
Trump himself was in New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
It was not immediately clear whether Rosenstein intended to resign at the White House over the commotion caused by his remarks last year, or if was simply expecting that he would be fired. That distinction matters in terms of whether the president would be able to name an interim successor of his own choosing.
Regardless, any termination or resignation would have immediate implications for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign before the 2016 election. Rosenstein appointed Mueller and oversees his investigation.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the highest-ranking Senate confirmed official below Rosenstein in the Justice Department, would take control of the Mueller investigation. A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
The reports about Rosenstein add to the turmoil roiling the administration, just six weeks before midterm elections with control of Congress at stake. In addition to dealing with the Mueller investigation, the White House is also struggling to win confirmation of its Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
Trump had previously floated the idea firing Rosenstein in April after FBI raids of the office and home of the president’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who has since pleaded guilty to several felonies and taken part in interviews with Mueller’s team.
But the latest move comes after a New York Times report of Rosenstein comments in May 2017. That report and an unsigned opinion piece by a senior official in the Republican administration played to some of the president’s concerns about a secret “Deep State” trying to undermine him from within the government.
The administration official, whom Trump has called for a federal investigation to unmask, wrote that there was a group of officials working to safeguard the country from the president’s most dangerous impulses. And Trump’s behavior had prompted “whispers” in the Cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, a move that was backed away from due to concerns it would “precipitate a constitutional crisis,” the writer said.