Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told White House chief of staff John Kelly that he is planning to resign because “he’s expecting to be fired” by President Trump, Axios reported Monday, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Rosenstein had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and that he proposed secretly recording conversations with the president.
Trump in a Monday interview left the door open to firing Rosenstein.
“I haven’t gotten all the facts, but certainly it’s being looked at in terms of what took place,” Trump said in response to a question about firing Rosenstein on WTAM radio’s “Geraldo in Cleveland.”
“If anything took place and I’ll make a determination sometime later, but I don’t have the facts,” he added.
In the spring of 2017, Rosenstein appointed Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller after Trump abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey.
In the event of Rosenstein’s resignation, Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
In response to the reports of Rosenstein’s departure from the Justice Department, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director and former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:
“There is much that is unknown about the reported departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but this much is clear: for the president to fire or force the resignation of a law enforcement official in order to derail an investigation into the president is an assault on democracy, and if that is what the president has done here, it is obstruction of justice, plain and simple. This may be the first step in President Trump’s attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or to effectively shut down his investigation, in what must ultimately prove to be an unsuccessful effort to prevent a full investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related obstruction of justice. Now is the time for Congress to begin hearings to get to the bottom of what is happening here, and if this is what it appears to be — an attempt by the president to undercut investigations into him — Congress must begin abuse of power hearings into the president. It is hard to overstate the potential gravity of this attack on the investigation and on our democratic system. As then Senator Jeff Sessions pointed out 20 years ago, obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense by the president.
Congress has the power to protect Special Counsel Mueller’s job and investigation. So far they have refused, because congressional leaders did not believe there was an immediate threat. Now it is clear that there is. They must act now, for the sake of our nation.”