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, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Judge rules former WH counsel McGahn must testify under subpoena 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 SessionsThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE, that he was next in line to replace Rosenstein if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 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 MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by 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.