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 RosensteinMueller to testify publicly on July 17 Trump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch 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 SessionsAttorney General Barr plays bagpipes at conference Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama Trump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake MORE, that he was next in line to replace Rosenstein if President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate 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.