Update, 1:12 p.m.: After a frenzy of reporting otherwise, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not resign on Monday. Instead, he is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss the recent drama surrounding his position, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Original post: Something is happening on Monday with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Axios is reporting that Rosenstein has “verbally resigned to Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge.” MSNBC is reporting that Rosenstein has been summoned to the White House. CNN is reporting that Rosenstein expects to be fired and was on his way to the White House late Monday morning. The New York Times is reporting that Rosenstein is “expected to leave the Justice Department” on Monday. The Washington Post is reporting that he has offered to resign.
NBC News’ justice correspondent Pete Williams, meanwhile, was reporting that Rosenstein would not be resigning.
The frenzy of rumors come in the wake of a New York Times report on Friday, which said that Rosenstein had sincerely discussed tape-recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment for removal from office after FBI Director James Comey’s firing.
Rosenstein manages special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, which has infuriated the president for months. Trump regularly tweets that the probe, which has won guilty pleas and convictions against multiple former top Trump lieutenants, is a “witch hunt.”
If Rosenstein is fired or resigns, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be in line to take over management of the Russia probe. Trump could also appoint any Senate-approved official to take Rosenstein’s job and take charge of the Mueller probe.
Management of the probe is no small thing: Mueller is supposed send every major decision—such as indictments or plea agreements—to the Department of Justice official in charge of the investigation. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recused from the investigation due to his campaign work, another fact that the president has continuously railed against.) The DOJ manager of the investigation also determines whether any report Mueller compiles on Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible collusion by Trump campaign officials, and possible obstruction of justice by the president is advanced to Congress and the public.
Trump is currently in New York for a United Nations meeting, so if Rosenstein is meeting anyone at the White House, it would not be the president.