- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2017

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to whom the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election currently reports, has privately discussed the possibility that he may need to recuse himself from the matter, according to ABC News.

Citing sources within the Justice Department, ABC News reports that Mr. Rosenstein raised the possibility of his own recusal with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. As the DOJ’s third-in-command, Ms. Brand would be the next in line to assume oversight of the special counsel.

The Justice Department on Friday said Mr. Rosenstein has not recused himself from the probe.

“As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a point when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed,” DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said.

Discussion about a possible recusal, however, could indicate a widening of the scope of the investigation, which is being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“I’ve talked with Director Mueller about this,” Mr. Rosenstein told The Associated Press earlier this month. “He’s going to make the appropriate decisions, and if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation then, as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there’s a need from me to recuse, I will.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March, citing his own ties to President Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Rosenstein in May appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel to oversee the Russia probe, which has now reportedly stretched to include inquiries into the business dealings of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, as well as whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump on Friday appeared to confirm that he was under investigation for firing former FBI Director James Comey.

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” Mr. Trump tweeted in an apparent reference to Mr. Rosenstein.

The deputy attorney general wrote the memo that recommended Mr. Comey’s firing, which the president initially relied on to justify the dismissal.

The president’s outburst on Twitter comes the morning after Mr. Rosenstein issued a strange public statement that condemned news stories attributed to anonymous sources.

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated,” Mr. Rosenstein said. “Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”

Justice Department officials did not provide further context for the statement, but it came within hours after The Washington Post reported that the special counsel’s investigation had expanded to include questions about Mr. Kushner’s business dealings.

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