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Tag: Deputy Attorney General

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.

Defiant Deputy AG Rosenstein Says Justice Department Won’t ‘Be Extorted’ with GOP Threats

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of overseeing the special counsel investigation of Russian election interference, said Tuesday he is not intimidated by conservative Republican lawmakers who are threatening to impeach him.

“There have been people that have been making threats, publicly and privately, against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now: The Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at the Newseum in Washington. “Any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job. We have a responsibility and we take an oath. That’s the whole point.”

Rosenstein, who has been in President Trump’s crosshairs, struck a defiant and resolute tone as he fielded questions from the audience and even criticized lawmakers who drafted legislation to potentially impeach him.

“They can’t even resist leaking their own drafts,” the deputy attorney general said. “I saw that draft. I mean, I don’t know who wrote it. It really does illustrate, though, a really important distinction between the way we operate in the Department of Justice — if we’re going to accuse somebody of wrongdoing, we have to have admissible evidence and credible witnesses. We need to be prepared to prove our case in court. … We have people who are accountable. And so I just don’t have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on.”

Trump Asked Mueller’s Boss If He Was ‘On My Team’

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump asked the top Justice Department official overseeing the special counsel investigation whether he was “on my team” during a December meeting at the White House, according to CNN

The candid question to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came in the midst of an obstruction of justice investigation that began when the president fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 for allegedly refusing to pledge “loyalty” to the president by dropping an investigation of a former Trump aide who has since been indicted.

During the White House meeting, Trump also asked about the direction of the investigation, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller in May to launch an investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump administration and Russia to undermine the presidential election in 2016. Rosenstein is in charge of overseeing the investigation because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself because he met with Russian officials while supporting Trump during the campaign.

A few days after the encounter  between Trump and Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general testified before a House committee that he saw no good reason to fire Mueller.

Sources told CNN in January that Trump was furious with Rosenstein and griped about wanting him removed. 

Deputy U.S. Attorney Rosenstein Interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s Office

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been interviewed by Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office about President Trump’s firing of former FBIU Director James Comey, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The interview, which occurred earlier this summer, creates the odd scenario of investigators questioning the officials directly overseeing the investigation. Mueller, for example, reports to Rosenstein after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey in May.

The interview “could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview,” the Journal reported.

The subject of the interview wasn’t immediately clear.

Senate Confirms Rosenstein As No. 2 Official at Justice Department

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rod J. Rosenstein, a veteran prosecutor, was overwhelmingly supported by the Senate to become the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, a position that places him in charge of the investigation into connections between Russia and President’s Trump campaign staff, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

The 52-year-old, who impressed the Senate with his record of fighting crime as the U.S. attorney for Maryland for the past 12 years, was confirmed to become the deputy attorney general.

Ultimately, Rosentstein will determine whether criminal charges should be filed against any of Trump’s aides or turn the case over to an independent prosecutor.

Rosentstein still has not said wether he would bring in special counsel.

Nevertheless, Rosenstein said he had “no reason to doubt” that Russian authorities tried to influence the presidential race.

President George W. Bush appointed Rosenstein, a 27-year veteran of the Justice Department, as U.S. attorney. 

Other Stories of Interest

Senate Committee Approves Rosenstein As Deputy Attorney General

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, candidate for deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The nomination of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general was approved Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, setting the stage for a full Senate vote.

Senators voted 19-1 in favor of Rosenstein. If the full Senate approves the nomination, Rosenstein will take the No. 2 spot at the Justice Department, the Hill reports. 

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, Rosenstein would be in control of the high-profile probe.

“He is on the American side, not on the Russian side, and I trust that he’ll hold true to that statement,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said.

Obama Administration Plans to Nominate Sally Quillian Yates As Deputy AG

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Sally Quillian Yates, a U.S. attorney from Georgia, is expected to be the Obama administration’s choice for deputy attorney general, the Washington Post reports, citing U.S. officials.

The deputy attorney general position is the second-highest-ranking post in the Justice Department and is in charge of day-to-day operations.

When Yates became the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in 2010, she became the first woman to serve in that position.

If all goes as planned, Yates would replace outgoing Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, who is leaving the post in January for a job in the private sector.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to Step Down, Take Job in Private Sector

Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole/doj photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is about to lose another high-ranking officials.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, second-in-command, announced Thursday that he’s taking a job in the private sector, the Washington Post reports.

The Post said possible successors include Sally Quillian Yates, who is U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Cole’s job was to run the Justice Department’s daily operations.

Cole spoke to the Washington Post about the difficulties of balancing security with civil liberties.

“If you just want to keep people safe and you’re willing to sacrifice people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties, that’s not so hard,” he said.

“If you just want to protect people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties and you’re willing to sacrifice their safety, that’s not so hard either,” Cole said. “The hard part is to do them both.”