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White House aides told DOJ official to prepare to take over Rosenstein's job

White House aides told DOJ official to prepare to take over Rosenstein's job
© Greg Nash

White House aides this week told a senior Department of Justice official to prepare to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE following reports that Rosenstein was ready to resign, according to a New York Times report.

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White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE reportedly told Matthew Whitaker, the chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUdalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG MORE, that he was next in line to replace Rosenstein if President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE fired his deputy attorney general or if he resigned.

Aides dropped the plan to bring Whitaker on board by late Monday morning, the Times reported. 

Trump and Rosenstein are set to meet on Thursday in a highly anticipated huddle. The president, during a freewheeling press conference Wednesday, said it is not his "preference" to fire Rosenstein. 

Whitaker, who was formerly the United States attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, once wrote in an op-ed that he believes the Trump family’s finances are beyond the scope of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump has expressed respect and admiration for Whitaker, sources told the Times.

The president has reportedly told advisers that he is "conflicted" over whether to fire Rosenstein, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Their meeting will come one week after The New York Times first reported that Rosenstein, in 2017, discussed secretly recording the president in the Oval Office and floated the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rosenstein has claimed the report is "factually incorrect" and some officials defending Rosenstein claimed that the remarks were made sarcastically.

Rosenstein oversees Mueller's investigation, which the president has often denounced as a "witch hunt."

Whitaker would not take over the probe if Rosenstein left the department.

-- Updated 9:15 p.m.