- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2019

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, resigned Monday, ending a turbulent two-year run as the Justice Department’s second-in-command.

In his resignation letter to President Trump, Mr. Rosenstein said his last day would be May 11.

The resignation was widely expected. Mr. Rosenstein said publicly he would step down after Mr. Mueller completed his investigation, which wrapped up last month.


SEE ALSO: Read Rod Rosenstein's resignation letter


His successor, Jeffrey Rosen, currently the deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation, is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Mr. Rosenstein’s letter defended the Justice Department’s independence, which has come under fire by Democrats since he and Attorney General William P. Barr decided to clear Mr. Trump of obstruction of justice.



Mr. Mueller declined to make a call on obstruction, saying he would not exonerate or clear the president.

“We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan and truth is not determined by opinion polls,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote.

“We ignore fleeting distractions and focus our attention on the things that matter because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle,” Mr. Rosenstein continued.

It appeared as if Mr. Rosenstein’s job was constantly in jeopardy during his time as the department’s No. 2 official.

A bombshell report in The New York Times said Mr. Rosenstein discussed removing the president via the 25th Amendment and talked about secretly recording his interaction with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Rosenstein denied the allegations, which resurfaced this year when former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe included them in his book.

After The Times report, questions swirled about Mr. Rosenstein’s fate at the Justice Department.

He was widely expected to be fired. But Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Trump cleared the air during a flight to a law enforcement conference aboard Air Force One.

Mr. Trump described their talk as “good,” and he didn’t ax Mr. Rosenstein.

Still, Mr. Trump twice passed over Mr. Rosenstein in favor of others when he was looking for a new attorney general.

The first time occurred after Mr. Trump forced former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after repeatedly criticizing him for recusing himself from the Mueller probe.

Instead, the president elevated Mr. Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, to serve as the acting attorney general. It was a controversial pick because Mr. Whitaker, unlike Mr. Rosenstein, was not confirmed by the Senate.

Later, Mr. Trump replaced Mr. Whitaker with Mr. Barr, going outside the department to fill the position.

Mr. Rosenstein was involved in two of the most controversial decisions of the Trump presidency.

First, he wrote the memo justifying the firing of former FBI Director James B. Comey. Later, he appointed Mr. Mueller to probe whether the firing amounted to obstruction.

Mr. Mueller continued the Russia probe started under Mr. Comey.

The appointment of Mr. Mueller incurred Mr. Trump’s wrath, and much of his ire was directed at the man who appointed him.

Mr. Trump derided Mr. Rosenstein on Twitter, including tweeting a meme with several prominent Democrats and Mr. Rosenstein behind bars.

The president is said to have apologized to Mr. Rosenstein for the tweet, according to press reports.

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