Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet with President Donald Trump Thursday amid questions about his fate in the administration after the New York Times reported he secretly suggested recording the President and weighed forcibly removing him from office.

Trump, speaking in New York, said Monday he spoke with Rosenstein earlier in the day and anticipated their meeting at the White House once he returned from the United Nations General Assembly.

“I’m meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday when I get back from all of these meetings,” Trump said.”And we’ll be meeting at the White House, and we’ll be determining what’s going on. We want to have transparency, we want to have openness and I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time.”

That statement capped off a tumultuous morning in Washington when it was, at times, unclear if the deputy attorney general still had his job. Rosenstein, who had a previously scheduled meeting with senior officials at the White House Monday, met with Chief of Staff John Kelly beforehand to discuss the confusion over his resignation.

Kelly told associates Monday that Rosenstein had offered to resign Friday and he had accepted. There were serious discussions among senior White House officials about his resignation over the weekend, but Trump was more focused on the drama surrounding his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, one source familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN.

Rosenstein has emphatically denied that he ever sought to record Trump or weighed invoking the 25th Amendment to force him from office, issuing multiple statements calling the story “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether any Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian officials. If Rosenstein leaves, it would spark immediate questions about the long-term job security of special counsel Robert Mueller. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, said on his radio show on Monday that if Rosenstein left and a new person was put in place overseeing the Mueller probe, there should be a review and “basically a timeout on this inquiry.”

Key Democrat: ‘Under no circumstances should Rod Rosenstein resign’

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter that Rosenstein should force Trump to fire him rather than resign.

“Rosenstein should continue to do his job, protect the independence of the DOJ, and if the President intends to obstruct justice, force Trump to fire him,” Schiff tweeted.

One of Rosenstein’s top critics in Congress said in a statement as the news unfolded on Monday that the events reinforced GOP calls for access to documents from the Justice Department and FBI.

“Whether or not the latest reports on Rod Rosenstein are true, one thing is clear: what is happening at the Department of Justice is a travesty,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina. “The total lack of transparency and accountability among senior FBI and DOJ officials has devolved into a constant wheel of behind-the-scenes gamesmanship, with anonymous leaks left and right, each seeking to create their own narrative and save face with the public.

Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters it was up to Trump whether to fire Rosenstein, but said if he did make such a move, “it would cause a furor that I don’t think we need right now.”

Bombshell story preceding latest back-and-forth

Republican allies of Trump urged him to hold off on a purge of Justice Department officials until after the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

People familiar with the conversations said in the hours after the Times report broke Friday, Trump questioned whether to fire him immediately. Rosenstein denied the Times report as “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

“I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false,” Rosenstein said in a later denial.

Trump appointed Rosenstein as deputy attorney general but had expressed extreme frustration with him for months, partly over his decision to hire Mueller last year. Trump has repeatedly branded the investigation a “witch hunt” and complained that Rosenstein is “conflicted” because he is a witness in the investigation after writing a letter advocating the firing of former FBI Director James Comey over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Rosenstein also signed off on Mueller sending a tax and fraud case against Michael Cohen to the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, a move that ultimately led to an FBI raid on the offices and homes of the President’s former lawyer, who is now speaking with prosecutors.

A career official

Rosenstein, born in Philadelphia, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and later Harvard Law School before starting a 27-year run at the Justice Department.

After rising through the ranks, Rosenstein was unanimously confirmed as US Attorney for the District of Maryland in 2005 under then-President George W. Bush. Rosenstein was nominated by Bush to the federal appeals court in Richmond in 2007, but his nomination was blocked by Maryland’s two Democratic senators.

He became the only Bush-appointed US attorney to serve throughout all of President Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure.

His time under Bush, Obama and then Trump made him the longest-serving US attorney in the nation’s history when he was confirmed to his current role under Sessions.

Rosenstein was confirmed to the deputy attorney general post by an overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate vote of 94-6 last year.

The future of Rod Rosenstein, and potentially the Russia investigation, hang in the balance as turmoil surrounding the deputy attorney general continues. (Illustration: CNN)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *