January 10, 2019
With a new AG pick expected to face confirmation hearings starting next week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who has been riding herd on the Russia probe (and taking the heat for it) since Jeff Sessions recused himself back in 2017—is planning to step down, NBC News reports.
Rosenstein long had intended to serve just about two years as the Justice Department’s number-two official, contacts in the know told the network news outlet. They assert that this is his own plan—and that he is not being forced out by the White House, although there certainly is no love lost there.
After demanding and receiving Sessions’ resignation in November , President Donald Trump nominated William Barr, who planned to be at the Capitol this week for a round of courtesy calls with senators ahead of his confirmation process, which starts on January 15.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented to Fox News: “I don’t think there’s any willingness by the president or the White House to push him out …. My guess is he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team that he wants around him.”
ABC News also reported on January 9 that the president’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, said he doesn’t think that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is on a “witch hunt,” doesn’t think he should be fired and is committed to making sure that Mueller finishes his investigation, according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
Research contact: @PeteWilliamsNBC
Clarification: Late on January 9, NBC News reported that “a source close to Rosestein [had] said he intends to stay on until Mueller’s investigative and prosecutorial work id done. The source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March.”