Still employed, Rod Rosenstein to meet with Trump Thursday

Rosenstein denies he raised prospect of 25th Amendment, secret recordings

(RNN) - After several reports of his impending firing or resignation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, the White House said.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Rosenstein and the president “had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories” at Rosenstein’s request.

Trump is currently at the United Nations General Assembly but will return to Washington DC on Thursday.

Several news outlets reported Monday that Rosenstein was expecting to be fired, CNN and the Associated Press reported Monday.

Rosenstein is second in command at the Justice Department to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and was the top official for the Russia investigation. He appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel last year after Sessions recused himself from the probe.

Deputy AG Rosenstein’s future in question

An extraordinary report in The New York Times on Sept. 21 claimed Rosenstein raised the idea in 2017 of assembling a group of cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office. The report also said he suggested wearing a wire and secretly recording conversations with the president.

Rosenstein called the story “inaccurate and factually incorrect” and asserted “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” but it proved not enough for Trump.

He had been something of a lightning rod for Trump, GOP lawmakers and other influential conservatives for some time.

Allies of the president long argued Rosenstein was not properly reigning in the scope of Mueller’s investigation. And Trump implicated him frequently in his accusations that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Congressional Republicans had threatened him with impeachment on a number of occasions, and in July even filed articles of impeachment against him, a move they later quietly abandoned.

They contended Rosenstein was slowly, or failing entirely, to turn over requested documents related to the Russia investigation. And in a highly contentious Congressional hearing in June, Rosenstein clashed with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, over the claims.

A series of FBI raids, reportedly signed off on by Rosenstein, in April targeting Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, drew the president’s particular ire at that time.

"It’s a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt. It’s an attack on our country. It’s an attack on what we all stand for," Trump said.

In May, Trump demanded on Twitter that the DOJ investigate whether the FBI inserted an operative into the president’s 2016 campaign. That matter stemmed from revelations that as the FBI began investigating Russia’s interference in the presidential election in 2016, “at least one government informant met several times” with Trump campaign aides.

Trump dubbed it "Spygate" and used it as a central plank in his argument that the Russia investigation is illegitimate.

Rosenstein deflected the request by referring the matter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz as part of another ongoing investigation.

Rosenstein has at times also been criticized for approving an application for an extension of surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page in early 2017.

He alluded to some exasperation at all of the scrutiny in joking comments in May.

“The dictionary defines piling on as joining with other people in criticizing someone, usually in an unfair manner. I also have experience with that," Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein proved a consequential appointment at the outset of the Trump presidency. Just days before appointing Mueller last May, he wrote the memo the president used as the primary justification for firing James Comey as FBI director.

And it emerged that in August 2017 he authorized Mueller to expand his investigation into looking at Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign chairman.

In July, he announced the indictment of 12 Russians made by the special counsel’s office.

Normally a quiet figure throughout all of this, Rosenstein made his most direct comments on his saga during a question-and-answer session at the Newseum in Washington in the spring.

"I can tell you that there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time and I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted," he said.

Rosenstein joined the Justice Department in 1990. He served a number of roles before becoming the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, a role he held until his nomination by Trump in 2017.

The George W. Bush administration nominated him in 2007 to a federal judgeship, but Maryland’s senators blocked the nomination because they wanted to keep him as the U.S. attorney in their state.

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