Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s job was in jeopardy Monday, as he awaits a meeting with President Donald Trump that could end with the White House in deeper turmoil.
Rosenstein will remain in his post for now and meet with Trump on Thursday, the Washington Post reported.
The number-two person at the U.S. Justice Department, who’s overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, was expected earlier on Monday to be removed from his post, according to USA Today.
Trump, who has long sought to fire Rosenstein over special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, could set off a series of events that ends in his impeachment if he decides to fire the deputy attorney general, USA Today note.
This all stems from an explosive New York Times report on Friday, which said Rosenstein, in 2017, had suggested wearing a wire while meeting with the president to possibly invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which spells out the procedures for removing a president who’s unfit for office.
Rosenstein denied the claims from anonymous sources in Times’ report.
His suggestion to wear a wire reportedly came in the aftermath of the chaos from Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russian collusion investigation.
After Trump dismissed Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation. The removal of Comey was seen as possible obstruction of justice evidence against Trump.
Rosenstein has defender Mueller every time the president has hinted at firing the special counsel. Removing Rosenstein has been viewed by many as a first step to replacing him with someone who will follow the president’s wishes to end the Mueller investigation.
But there could be political fallout from replacing Rosenstein. Even some Republicans have urged the president not to make that move, especially ahead of the midterm elections. It would be seen by many voters as the president’s attempt to end the Russia probe and lead to calls from the left and right for his impeachment.
If Trump does fire Rosenstein, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would assume oversight of the Russia investigation, according to the Times.
Francisco was a partner at Jones Day in 2016. The law firm represented the president’s 2016 campaign. Consequently, there could be a conflict of interest if Francisco oversees the Russia probe.