President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would “certainly prefer not” to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He also said that he might decide to delay a meeting with Rosenstein, the #2 person in the Justice Department.
According to the president, Rosenstein has denied making the comments that were attributed to him in a New York Times report earlier this month. The Times article said that Rosenstein had discussed secretly recording meetings he was in with the president, which was legally questionable and against White House protocols. He also was quoted as suggesting the use of the U.S. Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power.
At a news conference in New York Trump said:
“I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein. He said he did not say it. He said he does not believe that. He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see.”
“My preference would be to keep him and to let him finish up.”
Due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein is in charge of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Firing Rosenstein would threaten the continued existence of that investigation and create a political firestorm that might be damaging to Republican candidates in November’s midterm elections.
By saying he could postpone Thursday’s meeting with Rosenstein, Trump said he was focused on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On Thursday Kavanaugh will offer sworn testimony to the committee, as will Dr. Christine Ford, woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers.
“I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick,” Trump said in New York.
If the meeting is delayed it will prolong the uncertainty surrounding Rosenstein’s job status.
On Monday Rosenstein went to the White House thinking he was going to be fired, but the Monday meeting was re-scheduled for today.
All week the White House has been suggesting that Rosenstein would not be fired. In fact, there were reports that the hubub about Rosenstein was intentionally created by the White House as a distraction from the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations.
With a further delay in the Rosenstein meeting it appears that he will not be fired after all — at least for a while. With this president in the White House, anything can happen, and we have learned to expect the unexpected.