Report: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to leave DOJ in mid-March

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It was first reported in early January that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be stepping down from his role and leaving the Department of Justice within the next several weeks, a departure intentionally timed to coincide with the confirmation of the new attorney general, William Barr.

Fox News just reported that an unnamed senior DOJ official announced that it is now expected that Rosenstein will step aside in mid-March, presumably once the now-confirmed Barr is fully settled in and begins selecting the senior officials who will surround him at the top levels of the DOJ.

Rosenstein’s replacement named?

Though no official announcement has been made yet, word is that Barr has already picked someone to replace Rosenstein. That potential replacement is Jeffrey Rosen, who since May 2017 has served in President Donald Trump’s administration as the deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation, where he oversees day-to-day operations.

Rosen previously served in the administration of former President George W. Bush, first as general counsel of the Transportation Department from 2003-2006, then as general counsel and senior policy adviser for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2006-2009.

It is unclear when formal word of Rosen’s appointment as the new deputy attorney general will be issued, or how long it will take for him to be confirmed and to transition into his new role.

Planned departure

Rosenstein, who first joined the Trump administration in April 2017,  made it clear early on that he only intended to serve about two years as the deputy AG. That two-year period is just about complete, and with Barr now confirmed and ready to build his own team, Rosenstein has decided it is time to step aside and make room for his replacement.

Rosenstein’s impending departure is not particularly surprising, as it has been the subject of great speculation ever since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned following the 2018 midterm elections in November.

The deputy AG has been under intense scrutiny from across the political spectrum for most of his tenure, given that he has overseen the Robert Mueller-led special counsel probe into alleged collusion and 2016 election interference between Russia and the Trump campaign, which began shortly after Rosenstein assumed office.

Intense scrutiny

In recent months, the spotlight on Rosenstein has been particularly intense, as he has been accused of joining with other federal officials to plot against President Trump, even allegedly offering to wear a wire in Trump’s presence in an effort to somehow utilize the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

That accusation, it must be noted, comes from fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired after an Inspector General’s report revealed him to have lied on multiple occasions and who is allegedly the subject of a grand jury investigation that could potentially yield criminal charges.

Aside from the special counsel probe and 25th Amendment allegation — not to mention his involvement with the scandalous FISA warrant premised on the widely debunked anti-Trump dossier — Rosenstein has also drawn fire from congressional Republicans due to his constant dodging of testimony before congressional committees and his refusal to say much of anything on the occasions when he did appear for the purpose of providing testimony.

There are some who view Rosenstein rather critically and would like to see him investigated for possible wrongdoing against President Trump, while others feel he has simply done his job in a quietly efficient manner. Either way, Rosenstein will soon be a moot point, as he will no longer be serving as a top official in the DOJ.

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