According to multiple news sources, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to leave the Justice Department shortly after William Barr, the President’s nominee for attorney general, is confirmed.
The source said Rosenstein is not being forced out, and he has conveyed his thinking to the White House. (They must be thrilled.)
The deputy attorney general has overseen Mueller’s Russia investigation and has signaled to other officials that he would leave when he was satisfied that the investigation was complete or close enough to completion that it was protected.
Barr’s Senate confirmation hearing begins January 15, which means a confirmation vote at the earliest would occur in mid-February.
If confirmed, Barr would then oversee the Russia investigation. In a June 2018 memo to senior DOJ officials, Barr reached a decisive and controversial conclusion that President Trump‘s interactions with ex-FBI Director James Comey would not constitute obstruction of justice. Barr defended Trump’s firing of Comey and called the special counsel’s obstruction inquiry
In September, reports emerged that Rosenstein discussed wearing a “wire” to record conversations with Trump and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, according to sources familiar with memos authored by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe documenting the discussions. Rosenstein strongly denied the report and Trump had maintained he had no plans to fire Rosenstein.
Nevertheless, in November, the President tweeted out a picture of Rosenstein behind bars.
Rosenstein remained in his role as deputy at the Justice Department when Matt Whitaker was tapped as acting attorney general after Sessions was forced out. Whitaker took on overseeing the Mueller investigation, but Rosenstein’s office still manages it day-to-day.
(Photo, screen grab; via CNN)