May 13, 2019
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—whose double-dealing on behalf of the Trump administration only was revealed during his final weeks at the Department of Justice—left the agency on his own terms on Friday, May 10, BuzzFeed reported.
Rosenstein oversaw Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election—and was assumed by the public to be a staunch defender of the probe, which had the president and his staff and family in its sights.
However, recently the public learned that the deputy AG was more focused on protecting his job security. Indeed, he had promised the president,“I can land the plane [safely],” in reference to the investigation. What’s more, word has come out that Rosenstein avidly followed up on White House leaks on behalf of Trump.
When Rosenstein was confirmed in April 2017, then–attorney general Jeff Sessions had already recused himself from the Russia investigation, putting Rosenstein in charge of the most politically fraught criminal investigation in decades from day one.
Trump never acted on what is by now a documented urge to get rid of the official overseeing Mueller’s work. Instead of being forced out as Sessions was after the midterm election in November, Rosenstein on May 9 got what Sessions did not, BuzzFeed reported: a glowing farewell ceremony in the Justice Department’s Great Hall, complete with a tribute video.
Rosenstein sat on the stage, flanked by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Bill Barr, as speakers praised his dedication to the department over three decades and his service over the past two years, the news outlet said.
Rosenstein didn’t directly reference the Mueller investigation in his remarks—Congress is in turmoil dealing with the aftermath of the conclusion of Mueller’s work, and Rosenstein could be called to testify—but he spoke generally about how the DOJ “stands apart from politics.”
“Government officials sometimes face pressure to compromise principles, perhaps even to trade virtue for the appearance of virtue. But we should exercise caution when uncomfortable circumstances tempt us to disregard timeless principles. It is most important to follow the rules when the stakes are high,” he said.
Rosenstein’s replacement, Department of Transportation official Jeffrey Rosen, hasn’t been confirmed yet—but is expected to be in place soon; the Senate Judiciary Committee voted this week along party lines to advance his nomination, and he isn’t expected to face any problems in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Research contact: @BuzzFeed