Update 12:05pm CT, Sept. 24: We’ll find out Thursday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday in response to rampant speculation that Trump and Rosenstein would meet then to discuss his fate.
“At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories. Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.”
The original article appears below.
Axios first reported that Rosenstein had “verbally resigned” to Chief of Staff John Kelly, however it appears that Rosenstein expected to be fired when he was summoned to the White House on Monday morning.
Online, confusion reigned.
This is bonkers: Pete Williams is reporting that White House is saying Rosenstein will resign. Meanwhile, Justice Department saying that he will not resign.— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) September 24, 2018
The debate over whether he’s been fired or resign could affect just how Rosenstein is replaced, especially with regard to oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Whether or not the deputy attorney general resigned or was fired could have major implications. As Politico reported after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin left office, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act could only allow Trump to name a replacement for Rosenstein only if he resigns.
Otherwise, the job would seemingly go to Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
Rosenstein’s current state of flux brought about the same joke across Twitter.
Schrödinger's Rosenstein— Ride Theory (@ridetheory) September 24, 2018
Schrodinger's Deputy Attorney General— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) September 24, 2018
The expected departure of Rosenstein comes just days after the New York Times reported that the deputy attorney general suggested to FBI and Justice Department officials that Trump be secretly recorded in the aftermath of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
The newspaper also reported that Rosenstein floated the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, a clause in the Constitution that allows the Cabinet to remove a president from office. Rosenstein denied the claims.
Other reports suggested the remarks were made sarcastically.
However, this isn’t the first time it tempers have flared between the president and the deputy attorney general.
In mid-March, NBC News reported that Rosenstein had been telling those close to him that he was preparing to be fired, repeating a phrase from Martin Luther and saying he was confident that he had performed his job in the Department of Justice “with integrity.”
Around the same time, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she did not “have any announcements” when asked about the president potentially firing Rosenstein.
Q: Will Trump fire Rod Rosenstein?— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) April 13, 2018
Sanders: “I don’t have any announcements at this time. The president’s voicing frustrations, but beyond that I don’t have anything else to add.”
In March, the relationship between the former deputy attorney general and the special counsel’s office was magnified when it was revealed Rosenstein had given Mueller the authority to investigate Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, including whether he was “colluding with Russian government officials” during the 2016 election.
The deputy attorney general could be the latest in a number of high-profile officials in law enforcement agencies to be axed or forced out by Trump. Last year, the president abruptly fired Comey, and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired in late March. Even Sessions, an early Trump backer during the campaign, has faced criticism from the president.
While Rosenstein had not faced the same kind of scorn on Twitter as McCabe, he wasn’t completely spared from Trump’s outbursts.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt” Trump wrote last June.
With Rosenstein’s ouster, speculation has begun about the future of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rosenstein had been in charge of the special counsel’s investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Russia-related matters.