The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Attorney General Jeff Sesssions has expressed concern about Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy AG in charge of the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election after Sessions recusal, being fired. The warning was given to White House Counsel, Don McGahn. Sessions also stated that he would consider resigning if the President were to fire Rosenstein.
Sessions has been harshly criticized by Donald Trump over his recusal from the investigation last spring.
The most recent speculation about the potential firing of Rosenstein and Mueller came after the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office. The raid on the President’s lawyer’s home and office was approved by Rosenstein, personally, according to sources. Rosenstein has since assured Donald Trump that he is not considered a target of the Russia probe.
From the Wall Street Journal
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump, in response to a reporter’s question, addressed speculation about whether he might fire Messrs. Rosenstein or Mueller.
“As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months. And they’re still here,” Mr. Trump said. “So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us.” He made the comments at a press conference in Florida, where he is spending the week.
Mr. Sessions’s call to the White House counsel came amid tensions between the president and his Justice Department. The week before the attorney general’s call, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had conducted its raids on Mr. Cohen’s properties, prompting the president to attack the investigation publicly and privately.
That reaction raised concerns among people close to the president that he might move to dismiss Messrs. Mueller or Rosenstein, the top two officials overseeing the Russia investigation. The raids were carried out by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which has been working in coordination with Mr. Mueller’s office.
Why It Matters
When there are rumors of a President wanting to fire a Special Counsel or fire his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General so that he can find someone who will fire the Special Counsel who is investigating him, the term Saturday Night Massacre immediately comes to mind. Richard Nixon ordered his AG to fire Special Counsel Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate Scandal.
AG Richardson resigned in protest, as did Deputy AG Ruckelshaus. Robert Bork, the Solicitor General of the United States, considered resigning but on Saturday, October 20, 1973, was sworn in as Attorney General and dismissed Cox.
According to an article from Bloomburg, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassly is pushing forward legislation with Senator Tillis that would safeguard the Special Counsel from dismissal, in spite of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s opposition. That vote is to take place next Thursday, so keep your eye on that.