- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly warned the White House that if President Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, then he might leave as well.
- Trump’s fury toward Rosenstein reached its apex last week after it surfaced that Rosenstein had greenlit the FBI’s decision to raid the personal property of Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
- Sessions’ reported warning highlights the political firestorm that would likely ensue if the president ousts the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House last weekend that if President Donald Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, it may prompt his departure as well, The Washington Post reported.
Sessions apparently conveyed his sentiments in a phone call with Don McGahn, the White House counsel.
Trump has long stewed over Rosenstein, who assumed oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation after Sessions recused himself last year. Rosenstein also appointed former FB director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of the probe after Trump ousted FBI director James Comey last May.
As Mueller’s investigation gains steam, Trump has lashed out at Sessions and Rosenstein, as well as other current and former senior Justice Department officials.
But the president’s fury reached an apex last week, when it surfaced that the FBI had raided the home and office of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and seized several documents and records, including several that pertain to Trump’s personal and business activities. He grew enraged at Rosenstein in particular, after it emerged that Rosenstein had personally greenlit the FBI’s decision to raid Cohen’s property.
In the wake of the revelations, Trump openly discussed firing Rosenstein among his advisers and the White House drafted a list of talking points meant to discredit the deputy attorney general. Meanwhile, Trump’s allies in Congress and the right-leaning media sphere also heightened their calls for Rosenstein’s and Mueller’s firing.
However, Trump is said to have backed off after Rosenstein told him during a visit to the White House last week that he was not a target of the Cohen probe. Afterward, Bloomberg reported, Trump told his closest advisers that now was not the time to fire Rosenstein.
Sessions’ phone call to McGahn highlights the political firestorm that would have been sparked had Trump fired Rosenstein. A senior administration official told The Post that Sessions does not approve of the way Trump has treated Rosenstein and has felt that way for months.
The official added that Sessions has regularly sought guidance from the White House about Rosenstein’s standing in the president’s eyes and has asked about his interactions with Trump.
Meanwhile, more than 800 former DOJ officials wrote an open letter last week calling on Congress to move to protect Rosenstein and Mueller.