WASHINGTON: Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to step down once the new attorney general has been confirmed. Rosenstein’s upcoming departure raises questions for some about the future of the Mueller probe. Rosenstein has overseen the Mueller probe from the start after former AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the issue.
Multiple sources claim Rosenstein’s decision to exit the Department of Justice is voluntary. Rosenstein will stay in office until Trump’s AG nominee, William Barr is confirmed. Barr’s Senate confirmation hearings will begin next week.
Fox News reports a few more details on Rosenstein’s departure.
“There was no indication he was being forced out of his position by President Donald Trump, but multiple sources told ABC News that Rosenstein always expected to serve about two years.
“Rosenstein has made Trump and White House officials aware of his plan to leave, the report said. His exit is expected to occur around the time William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, would take office, ABC News said.”
As deputy attorney general, Rosenstein was responsible for the day-to-day running of the DOJ.
Throughout Rosenstein’s time as Deputy AG, Trump has complained about the DOJ investigations into both him and his current and former associates. Trump eventually fired Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker as acting AG. Whitaker then became Mueller’s top overseer. Rosenstein stayed involved in the investigation, but now as Whitaker’s deputy.
Barr had previously written a 19-page memo that criticized the Mueller investigation, specifically on its efforts to subpoena the president. Rosenstein has praised Barr as an excellent choice. We as the American public, have very little idea of what’s going on in the Mueller investigation behind the scenes, such as how close Mueller is to finishing up.
President Trump has been critical of the Russia probe and the Department of Justice for over a year now. He’s pointed fingers at Sessions and Rosenstein as being largely responsible for what has thus far been a pointless and fruitless investigation. Trump has called the Russia probe a “witch hunt,” and saying that the Justice Department isn’t doing enough to investigate Democrats like Hillary Clinton.
In late November, Trump retweeted a meme showing Rosenstein behind bars. When asked about it, the president said that Rosenstein “should have never picked a special counsel.” When Rosenstein leaves and William Barr takes over, the investigation could again find itself in danger. Barr’s Senate confirmation begins next week and a confirmation-vote could happen in mid-February.
— Headline image: Attorney General Jeff Sessions administers the oath of office to Rod J. Rosenstein to be the Deputy Attorney General of the United States. US Government photo, public domain, via Wikipedia entry on Rod Rosenstein.