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Rosenstein Planning on Leaving DOJ After Barr Is Confirmed
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9 Jan 2019 07:45 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rod Rosenstein (Image source: Screenshot)

 

 

This is upsetting news to anyone who has followed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, hoping to have all who broke the law serving time and booted out of politics, no matter their level of importance.  

The man who is overseeing the investigation and who appointed Mueller to head it up, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is planning to leave the Justice Department after former Attorney General William Barr is confirmed to take over the job once again.

 

In 2017 former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation that at that time was being conducted by the FBI. In early May Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. This led Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel for the investigation. 

It always stuck in Trump's craw that Sessions set that ball in motion by recusing himself, and finally the morning after the midterm elections he forced Sessions to resign and named Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

 

He came under much scrutiny as he has previously been very critical of Mueller and the investigation and had some other points against him as well. As the attorney general he would take over the special counsel investigation from Rosenstein. 

Trump was being urged to find a permanent replacement to clear that mess and nominated Barr, an attorney general from the Bush administration. The interesting thing is that he, too, has been critical of Mueller and the investigation.

 

A source familiar with Rosenstein said he is not being forced out yet has shared his thoughts with the White House. With some believing that Mueller's probe is nearing the end, there's the thought that this backs that up. 

When Rosenstein actually does leave could depend on when Barr is actually confirmed and when a new deputy attorney general is named. An official who's been briefed on Rosenstein's discussions said he wants to make sure there is a smooth transition and that includes within the investigation.

 

The Senate confirmation hearing for Barr is set to begin on January 15, which puts the earliest date for his confirmation vote around mid-February. 

Barr has indicated already that he wanted to choose his own deputy, just as he did when he was attorney general under the late President George H.W. Bush.

 

"The attorney general's balls are in the deputy attorney general's pocket, and I'm not putting my balls in anyone's pocket I don't know," he remembers saying in a 2001 interview. 

With regards to Trump's feelings about Rosenstein leaving, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I know that the deputy attorney general had always planned to stay around two years. He would like to help with the transition of bringing the new attorney general in. We hope that happens relatively soon."

 

"I know he wants to allow him to build a new team. He's doing a great job, and we'll let him make any further announcements on that from here." 

Last September there were reports the deputy attorney general had considered wearing a "wire" to record his conversations with the president and was trying to get Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

 

He denied taking part in that plan, and Trump said he didn't have any plans to fire him. Yet, two months later Trump tweeted a picture of Rosenstein behind bars. 

It looks like he'll escape the administration without being indicted, unlike others.

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