Well, here is an interesting, albeit, not unexpected development.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to sources, is likely to leave his post, shortly.
It was the popular belief that once former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced out, Rosenstein would follow. However, Rosenstein had suggested that he would stay on until the Russia probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller was complete, or near completion.
From ABC News:
Rosenstein has communicated to President Donald Trump and White House officials his plan to depart the administration around the time William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, would take office following a Senate confirmation.
Sources told ABC News Rosenstein wants to ensure a smooth transition to his successor and would accommodate the needs of Barr, should he be confirmed.
Rosenstein, much like Jeff Sessions, has endured the barbs and heated rhetoric of President Trump and his rabid base, since he was given oversight of the Russia probe.
When Sessions stepped aside in 2017, taking his hands off the wheel of the Russia probe, due to ethical concerns over his role with Donald Trump’s campaign, Rosenstein was put in charge.
Rosenstein appointed special counsel to take up the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in May 2017, after the president fired FBI Director James Comey.
It would have been a non-issue. Presidents are free to keep or replace those serving in that role, as they prefer.
It became an issue after both Sessions and Rosenstein were told to issue statements recommending Comey’s replacement, due to how he handled the case of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
It was a legitimate reason. Comey’s handling of that case was questionable, in the kindest estimation.
President Trump even trotted out his national security adviser H.R. McMaster on national TV to repeat the recommendations of Sessions and Rosenstein.
But then, Trump did what Trump does –
He cut the legs out from under his own people.
Rather than stick to the narrative, he sat with NBC News’ Lester Holt and suggested he was going to fire Comey anyway, because of the “Russia thing.”This gave a lot of weight to Comey’s assertion that the new president had, in several private conversations, asked him for loyalty, as well as asking him to let Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, off the hook.
Flynn became one of the early casualties of the Russia probe, after it was found he lied to Congress about his contacts with Russian officials, as well as money he received for acting as a lobbyist for the interests of Turkey.
Trump may have tried to fight for Flynn, but when Vice President Pence repeated Flynn’s untruths on television, it made him – and by extension, the administration – look the fool, so after only three weeks on the job, Flynn was out.
Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller, an old school FBI pit bull, to take up the Russia probe, and gave him broad authority to track down any wrongdoing involved in the 2016 election.
President Trump has been manic to the point of frothing, ever since. He has publicly blamed Jeff Sessions for not protecting him and his interests from what he often calls a “witch hunt.”
Meanwhile, the “witch hunt” has turned up a lot of actual witches.
After Sessions was forced out, there was a lot of speculation about what would happen with the Mueller’s investigation. Some lawmakers have urged for legislation to be passed that would protect special counsel, but so far, several attempts have been shut down by Republicans, who say there is no indication that the president plans to interfere with the duties of special counsel.
Then, of course, he stepped over Rosenstein to appoint Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.
What were his qualifications?
I mean besides his association with a company that was sued for being a massive scam, which gives him common ground with Trump?
It may be because in the past he has openly criticized Mueller’s work and even given his roadmap for shutting down the investigation, by blocking funding and effectively causing the probe to grind to a halt.
William Barr, Trump’s new nominee to take over as attorney general has likewise been critical of Mueller and the Russia probe.
So is Rosenstein leaving because he feels the time is right? Is it because he sees no chance for advancement in a Trump administration, given his role in appointing special counsel?
I’m sure we’ll know all within a week of his departure.