Update 3: The White House has finally weighed in on the Rosenstein “is he in or out” controversy. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that Rosenstein will meet with Trump on Thursday.
“At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. “Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, DC.”
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Update 2: Rosenstein reportedly traveled to the White House on Monday for an NSC meeting…the plot thickens…
…speculation is simmering that Trump may be able to appoint any confirmed cabinet member to replace Rosie regardless of whether he resigns or is fired…
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Update 1: WSJ is now reporting that Rosenstein hasn’t tendered his resignation – at least not yet. “The situation is still fluid,” the paper said.
Though multiple outlets are reporting that Rosenstein has been summoned to the White House with the expectation of being sacked.
Meanwhile…Trump is reportedly on a call with Kelly, who is at the White House.
Reports about Rosenstein’s fate have continued to weigh on stocks, with the Dow down 170 points on the day to touch fresh lows (while the Nasdaq has powered higher):
In a statement, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that “if rumors about Rosenstein’s departure are true, I’m deeply concerned” that the Mueller probe could be at risk.
One analyst pointed out that Rosenstein’s firing would trigger a “political earthquake”: “If Rosenstein is fired or resigns, this will be the last step for Trump before firing Mueller as well. And if this happens, believe me if I say that it will definitely not just be ‘noise’… it will be a political earthquake with heavy consequences also on markets.”
The breathless coverage and speculation has prompted some well-timed jokes on twitter.
Though, on a more serious note, Jack Posobiec pointed out an interesting coincidence related to the timing of Rosenstein’s purported resignation.
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After Friday night’s blockbuster NYT report in which, according to Andrew McCabe’s personal files, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to record President Trump (whether in jest or not) and proposed invoking Article 25, speculation has intensified that President Trump may fire Rosenstein imminently. And while many of Trump’s allies have urged caution, fearing a trap, moments ago Axios reported that Rosenstein has decided to preempt that step by verbally resigning to Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Within minutes of Axios’ report hitting the tape, several other media organizations (including ABC, AP ad Bloomberg) piled on, saying Rosenstein was on his way to the White House to be fired.
Per a source close to Rosenstein: “He’s expecting to be fired,” so he plans to step down.
The exact timing of the resignation is unclear, but he isn’t expected to be in job after Monday, according to another person familiar with the matter. The move comes after reports that Rosenstein suggested to colleagues last year that he would secretly record conversations with President Donald Trump.
However, as the NYT clarified, it wasn’t immediately clear whether Rosenstein was going to resign, or if he was heading to the White House expecting to be fired. Complicating matters further, MSNBC is reporting that Rosenstein will not resign, as he will “have” to be fired.
It’s worth pointing out that Trump is in New York City for the UN General Assembly. And while Bloomberg reported that Rosenstein’s resignation letter had been accepted, the NYT said it wasn’t clear whether Trump would even accept Rosie’s resignation so close to the mid-term elections, which would in effect force the Deputy AG to quit, or reluctantly stay on.
According to MSNBC, the office of the special counsel refused to comment on the story or say whether it had a new boss.
The news sent the S&P and the Dow to fresh session lows, leaving them on track for their biggest daily drop in a month, perhaps due to concerns the latest departure will lead to more political volatility as Trump seeks to end the Mueller probe.
If Rosenstein does leave, oversight of the Mueller probe would fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who would reportedly be much more amenable to Trump. According to Bloomberg, Trump can install a temporary replacement as deputy attorney general until he nominates a successor to Rosenstein, who would have to be confirmed by the Senate.
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As one Twitter user noted, the uncertainty surrounding Rosenstein’s status has made for one jam-packed news cycle…
The news cycle: pic.twitter.com/DL1J7aL05x
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) September 24, 2018