Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was on his way to the White House Monday to learn his fate, with conflicting reports emerging about whether he would resign or insist that President Donald Trump fire him to remove him from office.
Rosenstein’s hold on his job was imperiled after reports surfaced last week that he had discussed wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump and the possibility of organizing a push to remove the president through a process outlined in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.
Rosenstein’s departure would throw into doubt the future of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — including whether Mueller’s eventual report is ultimately delivered to Congress and made public. Trump has long been frustrated with Rosenstein over that investigation and the Justice Department’s lack of action in investigating agency officials whom the president believes conspired against him.
But it was the discussion of a wire and the 25th Amendment, first reported by the New York Times, that formed the proximate cause for Trump to force Rosenstein out.
Rosenstein said Friday that there is “no basis” for finding the president unfit to serve and that he never pursued any effort to record Trump. Two administration officials told NBC News Friday that Rosenstein had talked about a wire sarcastically, but people who have discussed the matter with then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was in the meeting in question with Rosenstein, say he recalls the deputy attorney general being serious about surreptitiously taping conversations with Trump.
In an interview with Geraldo Rivera taped over the weekend, Trump said he was considering removing Rosenstein.
“Certainly it’s being looked at in terms of what took place, if anything took place,” Trump said. “I’ll make a determination sometime later but I don’t have the facts.*
Democrats were quick to argue that Congress should intervene to shield Mueller from interference by the president.
“Congress must take immediate steps to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law—which protects all of us—by shielding the Mueller investigation against President Trump’s obstruction,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said in a statement released while Rosenstein’s job status was still up in the air.
McCabe, who was fired by Trump, made a similar appeal.
“There is nothing more important to the integrity of law enforcement and the rule of law than protecting the investigation of Special Counsel Mueller,” he said in a statement. “I sacrificed personally and professionally to help put the investigation on a proper course and subsequently made every effort to protect it. … If the rumors of Deputy AG’s Rosenstein’s departure are true, I am deeply concerned that it puts that investigation at risk.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had “no comment” when asked about Rosenstein Monday. Mueller’s office also declined to comment on reports that Rosenstein might soon be out.