“He is expecting to be fired.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he plans to resign before President Donald Trump gets a chance to fire him, Axios reported Monday.
Rosenstein verbally announced his resignation before White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, sources told Axios.
“He is expecting to be fired,” explained one of the sources.
According to a conflicting report by CNN, Rosenstein is set to meet with Kelly soon, where he expects to be fired.
Per @kaitlancollins Rod Rosenstein is set to meet with John Kelly at the White House soon
— Abigail Crutchfield (@ACrutchfield14) September 24, 2018
For Trump, the decision of whether to accept Rosenstein’s resignation isn’t an obvious one. A shuffle in his government — specifically in the Department of Justice, which oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — could add chaos to an already-fraught midterms season.
On the other hand, Rosenstein has been marked for removal ever since he’d stepped in for Attorney General Jeff Session, who, to the president’s dismay, had recused himself from the Russia investigation soon after being appointed as attorney general due to his own involvement in Trump’s campaign.
Rosenstein, who had appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comeny, has been accused by anonymous sources to have contemplated secretly recording the president in order to expose the chaotic state of the White House, The New York Times reported last week.
Rosenstein had reportedly also spoke with cabinet members about the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows members of the executive branch to remove from office a president deemed physically or mentally unfit to serve.
The bombshell report united many conservatives, some who had been reluctant to see Trump interfering with the Russia investigation, in calling for Rosenstein’s removal.
Strategically, some have argued that Trump would do better weathering the storm rather than getting rid of Rosenstein. Alan Dershowitz told CNN’s Michael Smerconish on Saturday that by letting Rosenstein stay in office, Trump can build a case to discredit the Mueller investigation.
“Right now Rosenstein’s on the defensive, you’re on the offensive,” Dershowitz said. “People are actually for the first time looking a little bit maybe sympathetic toward your claim that the investigation is not a completely objective one. I think yesterday was the best day for President Trump and the day before.”
On the left, Rosenstein stepping down is seen as a portentous sign for the Mueller investigation. With Rosenstein no longer in charge of the probe, Trump will be able to appoint a replacement that would more willingly put pressure on Mueller to wrap up — or perhaps even shut down the special counsel’s investigation altogether.