In the clearest signal yet that President Donald Trump has been talking privately about firing special counsel Robert Mueller, on Monday Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave his unqualified support for Mueller:
The special counsel is not an unguided missile. I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.
We learned over a month ago that President Trump sought to have Mueller fired last summer, and relented only when White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign if forced to carry out the directive.
Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel, appointed Mueller last May to run the wide-ranging investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself following the disclosure of prior meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Two months later, Rosenstein called the appointment of a special counsel “necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome.”
Rosenstein discussed the White House’s near-constant and pointed criticism of the Justice Department. He also noted an ultra-conservative Tea Party Patriots group, which has run an ugly ad campaign that describes Rosenstein as “a weak careerist” and suggests he tender his own resignation:
I believe much of the criticism will fall by the wayside when people reflect on this era and the Department of Justice. I’m very confident that when the history of this era is written, it will reflect that the department was operated with integrity.
In an interview with USA Today, Rosenstein appeared both secure and pragmatic in the unpredictable age of Trump:
I feel very confident in my ability to do the job. In any political job, you recognize that your time is going to be limited. My goal is to get as much done for as long as I’m here in the job. And when my time is up, whenever that may be, I’m confident that I’m going to be able to look back proudly on the work our department has done while I’ve been fortunate enough to be here.
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