Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been a target of criticism by President Donald Trump over his appointment of Robert Mueller to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the election, plans to leave his post in the coming weeks, according to reports.
Rosenstein, a career prosecutor, will leave the Department of Justice shortly after Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, is confirmed by the Senate, ABC News first reported, citing “multiple sources familiar with his plans.” CNN and CBS News also reported Rosenstein’s planned departure.
Rosenstein will ensure a smooth transition to Barr, and there is no suggestion that he is being forced out by the president, ABC said.
Barr’s Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 15, which means a vote would be held mid-February at the earliest, CNN reported. Barr would then oversee the Mueller investigation.
Speculation arose in September that Rosenstein would be fired after The New York Times reported he had contemplated secretly recording Trump and invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Rosenstein denied these claims and a source told HuffPost the comments were sarcastic. Trump said he wasn’t going to fire him.
But Rosenstein remained a target of Trump’s. The president in November tweeted a picture showing the deputy attorney general behind bars, along with some of Trump’s least-favorite people, including former FBI Director James Comey, former President Barack Obama and the Clintons. Trump has repeatedly referred to the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Rosenstein appointed Mueller to oversee the special counsel investigation in May 2017 and retained oversight over it for about a year, after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself due to his role in Trump’s presidential campaign.
After Sessions resigned at Trump’s request in November, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was given oversight of the Mueller investigation.
The Justice Department didn’t immediately answer HuffPost’s request for comment.