- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will leave the Justice Department once the Senate confirms new Attorney General William Barr.
- After former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia Investigation, Rosenstein became its main overseer. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to conduct the probe, infuriating Trump.
- Rosenstein, who has frequently been the target of Trump’s ire, has often defended the Russia Investigation.
In June 2017, Trump suggested that Rosenstein is part of the “witch hunt” against him.
- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
In June 2017, Trump lashed against Rosenstein online, saying he was now being investigated for firing James Comey by the man who told him to fire the FBI director. Trump was referring to the memo Rosenstein handed him soon after he became deputy attorney general that suggested Trump fire Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.
In the tweet, Trump said Rosenstein’s actions were part of a “witch hunt.”
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
In July 2017, Trump lashed out at Rod Rosenstein for being from Baltimore. He’s not.
- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
In a July 2017 New York Times interview, Trump criticized Rosenstein for being from Baltimore, saying “there are very few Republicans from Baltimore.”
Trump was apparently upset that Sessions recused himself from the Russia Investigation and instead appointed Rosenstein. The president falsely claimed that Rosenstein is from Baltimore – he actually is from Philadelphia but served as US Attorney for the District of Maryland for 12 years.
In March 2018, Rosenstein defended the Russia Investigation from Trump’s criticism, saying, “the special counsel is not an unguided missile.”
- Alex Brandon
In a March 2018 interview with USA Today, Rosenstein defended the Russia investigation from criticism coming from Trump and the White House, saying “the special counsel is not an unguided missile … I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
“I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice,” Rosenstein said. “I’m very confident that when the history of this era is written, it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity.”
Trump, furious over the raid of Michael Cohen’s office, appeared to be on the cusp of firing Rosenstein in April 2018.
“He takes the Russia stuff as a political hit job,” Axios reported a source close to Trump said. The source said Trump saw the Cohen raid as a “personal affront” and “the red line.”
“I’ve never seen him like this before,” the source said. The president ultimately did not fire Rosenstein.
Trump reportedly called Rosenstein “Mr. Peepers.”
- (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
A Washington Post report said Trump called Rosenstein “Mr. Peepers,” while Sessions earned the nickname “Mr. Magoo.”
Mr. Peepers was the main character in an early sitcom of the same name. The mild-mannered high school teacher lived in an idyllic American town in the 50s and dealt with life’s issues with a gentle spirit.
On Twitter, Trump said this wasn’t true, adding that he had no idea who these characters are.
Sometime during the spring of 2017, Rosenstein reportedly suggested secretly recording Trump and brought up the 25th Amendment. The suggestion came to light in a September 2018 report from The New York Times.
Months later, a New York Times story revealed that Rosenstein reportedly floated around the idea of recording Trump secretly to expose the “chaos consuming the administration” during the spring of 2017.
According to The Times, Rosenstein mentioned the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from the White House. Rosenstein disputed the account, saying the story was inaccurate and “factually incorrect.” The reports infuriated Trump.
In July 2018, Rosenstein defended the prosecution of Russian agents.
Though the president publicly doubts that Russia infiltrated the 2016 election, 12 Russian agents were indicted in the Mueller Investigation in July 2018.
During a press conference announcing the indictments, Rosenstein said “free and fair elections are hard fought and contentious, and there will always be adversaries who work to exacerbate domestic differences and try to confuse, divide and conquer us.”
“So long as we are united in our commitment to the shared values enshrined in the Constitution, they will not succeed,” he added.
In October 2018, Rosenstein once again defended the Russia investigation, calling it “appropriate and independent.”
In an October 2018 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein once again defended the Russia investigation and Mueller, saying he was “prepared to do this job as long as [Trump] wants me to do this job.”
“People are entitled to be frustrated, I can accept that,” he told the Journal. “But at the end of the day, the public will have confidence that the cases we brought were warranted by the evidence and that it was an appropriate use of resources.”
In November 2018, Trump retweeted a picture of Rosenstein behind bars along with some of the president’s critics.
- Donald Trump on Twitter
On November 2018, Trump retweeted an image depicting his perceived enemies – including Rosenstein, Mueller, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton – standing behind bars.
The meme, shared by a pro-Trump account, asked when the “trials for treason” will begin after falsely claiming that “the Russia collusion is a proven lie.”
The New York Post asked Trump why he shared it. Trump said Rosenstein “should have never picked a special counsel.”
In the last tweet the president sent about Rosenstein before his departure announcement, he suggested the deputy attorney general is “totally conflicted” in relation to the Mueller investigation.
Last month, Trump suggested that Rosenstein, who signed off on a FISA warrant that allowed the surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page during the election, is a conflicted figure in the Mueller investigation.
In a tweet, the president asked whether Rosenstein’s “scathing document” about Comey (which might be a reference to the letter Rosenstein wrote recommending Comey’s firing) would make an appearance in Mueller’s final report into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Trump has yet to comment on Rosenstein’s departure.