The Slatest

A Frustrated Trump Has Reportedly Mulled Firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies during a a House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies during a a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is so mad about the ongoing Russia investigation that he has reportedly turned that ire toward Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The news comes shortly after the bombshell New York Times revelation that Trump reportedly tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last year shortly after he got rid of FBI Director James Comey, but White House counsel Don McGahn wouldn’t sign off on the plan. Now CNN hears from four sources that Trump has been venting about Rosenstein “in recent weeks” and has made repeated comments about wanting to fire him. Two of those sources specifically said Trump has made comments about wanting to get rid of Rosenstein.

“Let’s fire him, let’s get rid of him,” Trump has reportedly said of Rosenstein. The president’s advisers invariably convince him such a move would be a really bad idea. “When this comes up—everyone says, ‘That’s the death march. That’s not going to accomplish anything,’ ” said one source. Rosenstein has been the one charged with overseeing the Mueller investigation since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

The White House is denying the report, calling it part of a pattern to spread false information about the president. “We do not find it to be a coincidence that there is an onslaught of false stories circulating in what appears to be a coordinated effort to distract and deflect from new revelations about already reported bias and corruption,” White House attorney Ty Cobb said. “We continue to cooperate with the special counsel and out of respect for that process will not weigh in further.”

The Times had already reported as part of its bombshell story from earlier this week that Trump had considered firing Rosenstein in order to put the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, in his place to oversee the Mueller probe. “This part of the story is significant because it shows that Trump’s concern was broader than any of the objections he raised against Mueller,” wrote Slate’s William Saletan, noting that the only thing Rosenstein, Mueller, and Comey all had in common was “that they weren’t Trump’s men.”

Trump dismissed the Times report that he wanted to fire Mueller as “fake news” on Friday. “Fake news. Fake news. Typical New York Times. Fake stories,” Trump told reporters.