Deputy attorney general to meet Trump to discuss future
Rod Rosenstein reportedly raised idea of secretly recording president last year
President Donald Trump and US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, will meet on Thursday to discuss Mr Rosenstein’s future.
A source told Reuters that Mr Rosenstein had spent the weekend contemplating whether he should resign after a New York Times report last week said he had suggested secretly recording Mr Trump in 2017.
The White House announced the meeting on Monday after a flurry of conflicting reports about whether Mr Rosenstein, a frequent target of the president’s anger, would be leaving the post.
“At the request of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, he and president Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Twitter.
She said the meeting would be on Thursday because Mr Trump was at the UN General Assembly on Monday and has meetings with world leaders later in the week.
The Rosenstein furore, kicked off by unconfirmed reports that he had verbally resigned, underscored the mounting tension in the White House over the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
There had been widespread speculation that Mr Trump would fire Mr Rosenstein since Friday when a New York Times report said that in 2017, Mr Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from office.
The Times said none of those proposals came to fruition. Mr Rosenstein denied the report as “inaccurate and factually incorrect”.
Shortly after the Times story, Mr Trump told supporters at a rally in Missouri that there was “a lingering stench” at the justice department and that “we’re going to get rid of that, too”.
Mr Rosenstein’s departure would prompt questions about the future of Mr Mueller’s investigation and whether Mr Trump, who has called the investigation a “witch hunt”, would seek to remove Mr Mueller.
The furore comes just six weeks ahead of the November 6th congressional elections, and Mr Rosenstein’s removal could become an explosive political issue as Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans try to keep control of congress.
If Mr Rosenstein resigns, Mr Trump has more leeway on replacing him while firing him would make it harder for Mr Trump to designate a successor.
Mr Rosenstein’s future ignited a series of conflicting reports on Monday, with the Axios news website citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the matter as saying he had verbally resigned to White House chief of staff John Kelly. Other reports said Mr Rosenstein expected to be fired while NBC News reported Mr Rosenstein said he would not resign and the White House would have to fire him.
Mr Rosenstein has defended Mr Mueller and been a target of Mr Trump since he assumed supervision of the Russia investigation after attorney general Jeff Sessions, recused himself because of his own contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington while serving as a Trump campaign adviser became public.
Mr Trump also has blasted Mr Sessions frequently and said last week “I don’t have an attorney general”. – Reuters