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Tag: Rod Rosenstein

State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker’s Appointment as AG

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s appointment of a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing a court challenge.

The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge Tuesday to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be the acting attorney general, not Whitaker, as a matter of law, the New York Times reports. 

In a draft filing, the state says Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.”

The request by Maryland is part of a lawsuit in which the state sued Sessions in his official capacity. Ellen L. Hollander, a 2010 Obama appointee to the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, must identify Sessions’ successor as a defendant in the litigation.

A lot is at stake. The supervision of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign and administration belongs to the head of the Justice Department, which is the acting attorney general.

Whitaker has long criticized Mueller’s position as illegal. Rosenstein, on the other hand, appointed Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia and the role Trump’s campaign played in election meddling.

Fate of Mueller Investigation Hangs in the Balance After Sessions’ Resignation

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday presented President Trump with his best opportunity yet to end the special counsel investigation that he has repeatedly dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist and harsh critic of Robert Mueller’s handling of the probe, has been tapped to replace Sessions on at least a temporary basis.

As attorney general, Whitaker could seize control of the special counsel investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller in April 2017 after Sessions recused himself.

Whitaker, a former college football player and U.S. attorney in Iowa, wrote in a column for CNN last year that Mueller would overstep his authority if he investigated the Trump family’s finances.

“This would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt,” Whitaker wrote, repeating the president’s go-to conspiratorial phrase.

Whitaker has not yet responded to media questions about what he plans to do about the Mueller investigation.

“I am committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards that upholds the rule of law and seeks justice for all Americans,” Whitaker said  Wednesday in a statement, calling Sessions “a man of integrity.”

Democrats wasted no time demanding that Whitaker stay away from the probe because his previous comments indicate he is far too biased to handle it fairly.

“Given his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation, Mr. Whitaker should recuse himself from its oversight for the duration of his time as acting attorney general,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement to the New York Times

If Trump’s administration interferes with the investigation, Democrats could use their new majority in the House to impeach the president. But the bold measure would almost certainly die in the Senate, which needs two-thirds of the vote to impeach.

Special Counsel Expected to Reveal Findings of Investigation After Midterm Elections

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings related to his investigation into Russian election interference after the midterm elections.

Mueller is finishing up his report, which will include findings about whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and whether the president obstructed justice during the probe, Bloomberg News reports.

The findings will be presented to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It’s not yet clear whether the report will become public.

Regulations give some discretion to Rosenstein in deciding what to reveal to Congress and the public.

Ex-FBI Attorney: Bureau, DOJ Were Not Joking about Removing Trump

Former top FBI attorney James Baker

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI general counsel James Baker said discussions within the bureau about secretly recording President Trump in an effort to remove him from office was no joke.

Baker served in the leadership role in May 2017, when then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed the secret recordings.

Baker shared the information with Congress last week.

“As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed,” a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation told The Hill. “It was no laughing matter for the FBI.”

Rosenstein, who is scheduled to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by House judiciary Committee members, has denied that the discussions were serious.

Trump Less Likely to Fire Rosenstein Because of Midterm Election Fallout

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein seemed all but certain earlier this week, but White House officials said Tuesday it’s unlikely that President Trump will fire Rosenstein before the midterm elections.

Sources in the White House told the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post that a major shakeup in Justice Department looks less likely as Trump considers the possible fallout during midterm elections. 

Allies of Rosenstein, who set in motion the special counsel investigation of Russia with the appointment of Robert Muller in May 2017, also said he is unlikely to voluntarily resign.

Rosenstein is scheduled to meet with the president Thursday to discuss a New York Times story that said he considered secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to force his removal from office.

According to advisers to the president, Trump has expressed a willingness to hear out Rosenstein.

Republicans have urged the president to wait until after the midterm elections to remove Rosenstein.

Russia Investigation at Risk with Potential Departure of Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The potential departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has raised legal questions over who would succeed him and oversee the special counsel investigation of Russia.

With Rosenstein in charge of the Robert Mueller investigation, a lot is at stake.

Legal experts say President Trump likely has two options if he fires Rosenstein, who has come under fire following reports that he suggested secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Under a federal law about the order of succession, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be the next in line to replace Rosenstein. But Francisco may recuse himself because he worked for Jones Day, a law firm that has represented Trump’s campaign. Next in line is Steven Engel, the head of the Justice Department.

But another law, the Vacancies Act, could give Trump more options because it gives the president the authority to temporarily fill executive positions with acting officers, according to the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal reports:

But if invoked, the Vacancies Act could open the field—at least on a temporary basis—to a much larger pool of potential successors. The list could include other Senate-confirmed Trump administration officials in and outside the Justice Department. It could also include senior Justice Department officers who haven’t gone through Senate confirmation but have served in the agency for at least 90 days and have attained the highest-level pay grade.

While the Vacancies Act could give Mr. Trump more flexibility, it’s a more legally uncertain path. For one, it’s not clear if the Vacancies Act could be used to replace Mr. Rosenstein if he is fired.

Under the law, a vacancy arises when a relevant officer “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” Legal experts disagree about whether getting fired constitutes being “otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” A 1999 Office of Legal Counsel memo—citing Senate floor debate—suggests that a firing would count. The issue would likely be litigated.

Updated: Deputy AG Rosenstein Considering Resigning; Will Meet With Trump on Thursday

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Update: 3:35 p.m. Monday — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein will remain put for now,  but will meet with President Donald Trump Thursday to discuss his job, the Washington Post reports.

___________________________________

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has worked to keep the Justice Department in line with its mission, is considering resigning, the Washington Post reports.

The paper reports that Rosenstein told the White House he’s willing to resign, but it was unclear if the resignation has been accepted.

One Justice Department official tells the Post Rosenstein was on his way to the White House on Monday and was preparing to be fired. But the official said Rosenstein is not resigning.

Meanwhile, in earlier reports, President Trump said he has not decided whether to fire Rosenstein following a New York Times report, that stated he discussed secretly recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. 

Asked whether he feels unsettled about Rosenstein, who is overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Trump said his administration is investigating.

“I’m not unsettled about anything, but I’ll tell you what. We are looking at it,” Trump told host Geraldo Rivera in an interview Sunday for his new show on WTAM radio in Cleveland. “It’s very early. We just read the reports. ... We will make a determination.”

Trump also indicated Rosenstein was “hired by Jeff Sessions.”

“I was not involved in that process, because you know they go out and get their own deputies and the people that work in the department,” Trump said. “Jeff Sessions hired him.”

Trump has lashed out at Sessions since he recused himself from the Russia investigation, a decision that gave Rosenstein the authority to appoint a special counsel.

Steve Bannon Calls Mueller a ‘Good Man’ But Suggests Rosenstein Should Be Fired Unless Documents Released

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House political strategist Steve Bannon called special counsel Robert Mueller “a good man, a combat-veteran Marine” in a strong departure from President Trump’s rhetoric.

But Bannon also insisted in an interview with The Hill that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia and that Mueller should release a report on his findings before the mid-term elections so Americans can make up their own minds on the veracity of the investigation. 

“Let the American people, on Nov. 6, let them decide,” Bannon said. “They are going to say that is too thin a reed to hang anything serious on.”

Bannon also suggested Trump should fire Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, if he doesn’t disclose documents related to the Russia investigation.

“If he doesn’t do it in 72 hours, he’s fired. I’d fire him,” Bannon said.

Bannon’s positive comments about Mueller strongly contrast with Trump’s rhetoric.

“Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & Comey is his close friend,” the president tweeted. “Also, why is Mueller only appointing Angry Dems, some of whom have worked for Crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama….And why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side-Podesta, Dossier?”