Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House he may resign if President Trump fires Rod Rosenstein, his deputy attorney general and second-in-command at the Department of Justice, according to multiple news reports.
Mr. Sessions told White House counsel Don McGahn in a phone call this week that he would consider leaving his job atop the DOJ if Mr. Trump terminates Mr. Rosenstein, The Washington Post first reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Sessions urged Mr. McGahn against firing Mr. Rosenstein and told him he’d weigh resigning in the event of his removal, The Wall Street Journal reported later Friday.
Mr. Trump pondered the possibility of removing the deputy attorney general earlier this month after Mr. Rosenstein, the top DOJ official overseeing the department’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, authorized FBI raids on April 9 targeting his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, according to previous reports.
In a phone call last weekend, Mr. Sessions asked Mr. McGahn for information about an April 12 meeting held at the White House involving both Mr. Trump and Mr. Rosenstein, The Post reported.
The attorney general was relieved to learn the meeting was mostly cordial, and he told Mr. McGahn he’d consider leaving if Mr. Trump removed Mr. Rosenstein, the report said.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment, The Post reported.
Mr. Sessions, a former senator and presidential campaign surrogate for Mr. Trump, recused himself last year from any Justice Department investigations involving Russia’s role in the 2016 race after it emerged that he communicated with Moscow’s ambassador to D.C. during the election and transition. Mr. Rosenstein subsequently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the inquiry after Mr. Trump abruptly fired James Comey from his job as FBI director in May, and Mr. Mueller’s probe has resulted in criminal charges already against several of the president’s former associates.
FBI agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and hotel room earlier this month armed with search warrants authorized by Mr. Rosenstein and based “in part” on a referral from the special counsel’s office, Mr. Cohen’s attorney said previously. Mr. Trump has since called the raids an “attack on our country.”