Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is reportedly leaving his post at the Justice Department in the coming weeks ahead of the arrival of incoming Attorney General nominee Bill Barr.
As ABC News reports, the idea to leave the Trump administration was made by Rosenstein, who wishes for Barr to have a smooth transition into his new post.
From the report:
Rosenstein has communicated to President Donald Trump and White House officials his plan to depart the administration around the time William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, would take office following a Senate confirmation.
Sources told ABC News Rosenstein wants to ensure a smooth transition to his successor and would accommodate the needs of Barr, should he be confirmed.
Rosenstein apparently had long been thinking he would serve about two years, and there was no indication that he was being forced out at this moment by the president.
According to the report, Rosenstein’s exit has been rumored since President Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Instead of leaving, Rosenstein has been serving under Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
Rosenstein’s departure from the Justice Department immediately brings into question the Mueller investigation, which Rosenstein has been personally overseeing since Sessions recused himself, the Daily Mail reports.
He [Rosenstein] has been on the brink of an exit before, notably in September when he and Trump clashed after a report that Rosenstein secretly recorded Trump and was looking at invoking the 25th amendment to remove him from office.
Mueller’s probe was at the heart of the disagreement between the two men.
It was Rosenstein who appointed Mueller as special counsel after then-Attorney Feneral Jeff Session recused himself from overseeing the investigation.
The Washington Examiner adds:
Barr’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary committee begin next week, and once he’s confirmed, he will officially replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced to resign by the White House in November.
Rosenstein appointed and has overseen special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation since May 2017.
Rosenstein has been a frequent target of President Trump’s ire on Twitter. The president recently re-posted an image of Rosenstein and high ranking officials behind prison bars.
Rosenstein has also drawn the criticism of Trump-allies Republican lawmakers, who have consistently accused the Justice Department of being biased at the top levels.
And, via Fox News:
While Rosenstein was never criticized by Trump as heavily as Sessions was, Trump has cited how Rosenstein signed a FISA surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The president has repeatedly decried the DOJ and FBI’s efforts to obtain that surveillance warrant, while blasting the Mueller probe Rosenstein previously oversaw as a “witch hunt.”
Meanwhile, Rosenstein has sparred with Republicans in Congress, especially former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, over “slow walking” its response to document requests. The House Freedom Caucus last year drafted articles of impeachment for Rosenstein, describing that effort as a “last resort” if their demands for records were not fulfilled.
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.