The second-highest-ranking official at Justice, Rosenstein currently oversees the inquiry probing allegations Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Rosenstein assumed the role following former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusing himself in 2017.
According to White House sources, Mr. Rosenstein’s departure is not unexpected, as officials have confirmed the career prosecutor had planned to remain in the position for a duration not lasting longer than two years.
NBC News reported Wednesday, however, Rostenstein will not quit his post until Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is concluded.
Administration officials confirmed Rosenstein will remain until William Barr, President Trump’s choice to succeed Sessions, is confirmed by the Senate. Hearings for Barr are expected to being next week.
Long the source of speculation he was on his way out at Justice, Rosenstein often enraged the White House over his handling of Mueller, whom he appointed personally in early 2017, and further incensed Trump for his refusal to apply pressure on Mueller to end the probe. Trump and his attorneys have often decried the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Despite Trump’s repeated criticism of Rosenstein, who served both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the No. 2 official was neither dismissed, nor did he resign.
The feud between the White House and Rosenstein boiled over in late 2018 when it was reported Rosenstein allegedly suggested he wear a wire to record conversations with Trump. Rosenstein denied the charge, but faced criticism from the White House for the rumor.
Rosenstein also had critics in Congress: GOP opponents filed articles of impeachment against the deputy attorney general in July 2018, prompting Democrats to move to offer legislation protecting Mueller’s probe.
Although Rosenstein allegedly caused headaches for the Trump administration, his rocky tenure had some support and sympathy in the White House for his unreserved endorsement for the firing of former FBI head, James Comey.
Rosenstein isn’t likely to exit Justice until sometime in February at the earliest.
[Washington Times] [NBC News] [Politico] [Photo courtesy CNN/Getty Images]