Rod Rosenstein: Will He Resign? Will He Be Fired? Will We Know?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s expected departure may not feel exactly like a surprising news story. There was speculation during the summer that Trump might fire Rosenstein after the FBI raided the home of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. What stands out at this point about the possibility of Rod Rosenstein’s leaving is the recent alternating news about his mode of departure.

First, the news came over the weekend that Rod Rosenstein was about to be fired in the aftermath of a story that appeared in The New York Times. According to the Times, after Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey in early 2017, Rod Rosenstein had allegedly suggested invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein also reportedly talked about secretly recording Trump’s conversations. Rosenstein has denied both allegations.

Later, on Monday, it was reported that Rosenstein was going to resign because he expected to be fired. He visited the White House on Monday, and met with Chief of Staff John Kelly, as well as speaking with Donald Trump, who was in New York when they spoke.

At the end of Monday, however, Rosenstein’s job was still intact. He will meet in person with Trump on Thursday, September27.

In anticipation of Rod Rosenstein’s expected departure one way or the other, is the White House trying to blur the public’s impression about whether Rosenstein was fired or whether he resigned?

Something important to remember is this, from The Atlantic: “If the president can browbeat Rosenstein into resigning—or even plausibly misrepresent the firing as a resignation—Trump gains the power to bypass the Senate confirmation process under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. He can replace Rosenstein with any serving official previously confirmed by the Senate to any other job.”

In the summer of 2017, when Trump ordered the firing of Robert Mueller, and Don McGahn refused, some predicted that Trump would next try to fire Rod Rosenstein, who also indicated that he did not intend to fire Mueller. This, some said, would remove the block (Rosenstein) to ending the Russia investigation.

If Donald Trump’s current chance to get rid of Rod Rosenstein plays out, Trump would be able to control who steps in at the Justice Department to run the Mueller probe. That person would have to be confirmed by the Senate, but with a Republican-dominated Senate, most of which either strongly backs Trump or has been largely sluggish, it’s likely the Trump appointee would be confirmed. That person would then direct Robert Mueller, and could effectively put an end to the investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election. Thursday may not only be a big day for Rod Rosenstein, it could be a fateful day for our country.

Napolitano on potential fallout if Trump fires Rosenstein | Fox News [2018-09-24]

Rod Rosenstein speaks with Trump about recent news stories, will meet Thursday | CBS News [2018-09-24]

Will Trump Take Down Robert Mueller?

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues with his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Donald Trump appears to be stepping up his resolve to stop him. Trump continues to deny it, yet it’s clear that he and those close to him have discussed it. White House Communications Director Sarah Sanders hinted as much by saying, when asked, that Trump had been advised that he did have the power to fire Robert Mueller.

Trump does not have the power to fire Robert Mueller, however, and only one person – Mueller’s boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – does. It seems likely, however, that Rosenstein would refuse to do so. But saying “no” to the president would set Rosenstein up nicely to be fired. In turn, that would leave a vacancy that Trump could conveniently fill with someone who is willing to fire or at least put more restrictions on Robert Mueller.

Many say that even if Robert Mueller is fired or limited, it won’t impede the Russia investigation, because the people at the Justice Department will continue to do their jobs. If so, Trump could then fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with someone who would not protect the investigation. Trump could also impede the investigation by pardoning key witnesses, or repealing the regulations that establish the office of the special counsel.

Trump ‘s Increasing Ire at Robert Mueller

With every new indication that Robert Mueller may be getting closer to finding damning evidence in the Russia probe, Trump steps up his drive to put an end to the investigation. The New York Times reports that Trump wanted to fire Mueller in December, after erroneous reports that Mueller had tried to subpoena Trump family financial records from Deutsche Bank.

Recently, Trump’s ire toward Robert Mueller has increased with the raid of the home of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. (In reality, it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and not Robert Mueller, who executed the raid.)

Trump appears to be attempting, in his usual way, to set the scene and influence the opinions of his followers by discrediting Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller via tweets such as the following one:

“Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!

Constitutional Crisis

Many Republicans as well as Democrats oppose the idea of having Robert Mueller fired, and say they don’t think that it’s likely.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, tweeted:

“Anyone advising the President — in public or over the airwaves— to fire Bob Mueller does not have the President or the nation’s best interest at heart. Full stop.”, an organization that XXXX, stated, ““Trump will create a constitutional crisis if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller, or attempts to compromise the investigation by other means.” is responding to the possibility of Robert Mueller’s firing by organizing local rallies across the country, prepared to mobilize within 24 hours of the firing, should it occur.

How far will Donald Trump go to stop the investigation of Russian election meddling? With leading figures such as Hatch tweeting about it, and with people around the country already prepared to mobilize in non-violent protest if he does, it’s evident that many Americans feel he’ll start with Robert Mueller, and will stop at nothing.

Speier: Trump Will Go Down if Mueller Is Fired | CNN [2018-04-10]

Ex-DOJ Attorney: Rosenstein Should Have Already Been Fired | Fox News [2018-04-12]