Deputy Attorney general Rod Rosenstein is out at the Justice Department.
Sources told ABC News Rosenstein wants to ensure a smooth transition to his successor and would accommodate the needs of Barr, should he be confirmed.
Rosenstein apparently had long been thinking he would serve about two years, and there was no indication that he was being forced out at this moment by the president.
Upon the termination of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speculation mounted that Rosenstein would depart shortly thereafter, yet he’s remained in his post as Matt Whitaker has served as acting Attorney General since late November.
Rosenstein oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe for more than a year, after Sessions had recused from the matter over his role in Trump’s presidential campaign.
Like other senior leaders within the Justice Department, Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump’s on Twitter, with the president recently re-posting an image of Rosenstein and others behind bars.
In May 2017, shortly after Trump fired James Comey as FBI Director, Rosenstein made the call to appoint Mueller to take over the FBI probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties between Russian operatives and Trump associates.
Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly blasted that decision. But tensions between Trump and Rosenstein came to a head in September, after reports surfaced saying that, during a meeting in the immediate aftermath of Comey’s firing, Rosenstein raised the possibility of secretly recording the president at the White House.
However, a source familiar with how Justice Department officials who attended that later meeting viewed what happened, said they believed Rosenstein was being “sarcastic” — noting that there was never any follow-up conversation from Rosenstein or anyone else about it.Speaking later about the reports, Rosenstein never totally disputed making such a remark, but he insisted the reports were overblown and that he never took any action to secretly record Trump. A private conversation between Trump and Rosenstein weeks later seemed to cool tensions.
Democrats are terrified of the news.
I am having a panic attack. But.. thank you Rod.
— NothingVentured (@WavesAreStars) January 9, 2019
I am very much afraid of what William Barr will bring to the table, given his standing criticism of Mueller and Comey. He has voiced opposition to the investigation despite not having all the facts. I have my doubts that exposure to them will change his mind.
— ToTS (@Tots58449074) January 9, 2019
Rod Rosenstein is quitting. Time to PANIC! pic.twitter.com/5Ys5DxRidN
— | Keenan Kevin Cameron Kenny | (@skuytercliffe) January 9, 2019
Rod Rosenstein is leaving in the next couple weeks and I can't stop crying. I am scared now. Truly, more than I've ever been scared since any of this started. OMGOODNESS. THIS IS NOT GOOD.
— The Evolving Arm (@leftarmisme) January 9, 2019
Trump is stacking the deck with his ppl
— hud (@julyriver) January 9, 2019