Some critics of US President Donald Trump have expressed fear that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein could be fired after the former’s tirade apparently against the latter on Twitter, according to the Washington Post. Trump put fresh pressure on the second-highest-ranking official at the Justice Department on Friday as he tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” Also, reports have emerged that the senior Justice Department official has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from his role overseeing the special counsel probe into Russian meddling in 2016 elections, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ own recusal. However, the Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said Friday Rosenstein sees no reason at this point to recuse himself, however, adding, “As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a point when he needs to recuse, he will.” Earlier, Rosenstein had authored an extensive and publicly-released memorandum recommending former FBI-chief James Comey’s firing.
The memo that the White House at first said was critical to the decision, before Trump suggested it was irrelevant because his mind was already made up. Also, it was Rosenstein who appointed Robert S. Mueller III as the special counsel to lead that investigation after Comey was fired. Rosenstein finds himself in a spot as he could face the President anger or answer questions about his own future role supervising Mueller when he could become a witness in the special counsel’s probe. Mueller broadened the probe with the President now under investigation for obstruction of justice in probe regarding possible collusion by his campaign with the Kremlin.
Rosenstein could eventually be questioned by Mueller about his memo on Comey and what motivated Trump to ask him to write it. If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, the responsibility of overseeing the special counsel would fall to the department’s third-highest-ranking official, Rachel Lee Brand, who was confirmed a month ago to be associate attorney general.