Rod Rosenstein Plans To Leave Justice Department Following William Barr’s Confirmation
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plans to depart from the Justice Department following William Barr‘s confirmation as attorney general. Rosenstein currently oversees the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections helmed by Robert Mueller.
Rosenstein is reportedly leaving by choice, not due to political pressure from Donald Trump or others in his administration. Rosenstein has previously expressed his desire to leave the White House only when the investigation was finished or close enough to being finished to ensure its safety. Although not necessarily proof, this could be taken as a strong sign the special counsel’s investigation is nearing its completion.
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Rosenstein hopes to cultivate a smooth transition, both in Trump’s administration and in Mueller’s investigation. Whenever Barr’s confirmation happens could affect Rosenstein’s departure, though the earliest Barr could be sworn in is the middle of next month. Barr’s confirmation hearings are slated to start on Jan. 15.
Barr had signaled to the White House his desire to have his own deputy, something he enjoyed back when he served under the late George H.W. Bush. He also previously expressed his belief that Trump’s dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice. Instead, he defended Trump and claimed the special counsel was “fatally misconceived” in its obstruction questioning. If Barr is approved for the position, he will take over from Rosenstein and monitor the special counsel’s investigation.
Rosenstein initially appointed Mueller to helm the special counsel in May 2017, an act Trump was furious about. Trump has been critical of Rosenstein, calling him “totally conflicted” and sharing a picture depicting him in jail alongside some of his detractors.