Trump postpones Rosenstein meeting

Trump postpones Rosenstein meeting
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg on Mueller report: 'Politically, I'm not sure it will change much' Sarah Sanders addresses false statements detailed in Mueller report: 'A slip of the tongue' Trump to visit Japan in May to meet with Abe, new emperor MORE has decided to postpone a meeting with Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinClinton campaign chief: Mueller report 'lays out a devastating case' against Trump Mueller report shows how Trump aides sought to protect him and themselves Dem House chairs: Mueller report 'does not exonerate the president' MORE intended to determine his fate as deputy attorney general, the White House announced Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Rosenstein spoke by phone and agreed to meet next week. Both men wanted to avoid interfering with Thursday's hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, she said.

“The president spoke with Rod Rosenstein a few minutes ago and they plan to meet next week. They do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing,” Sanders said in a statement.

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The announcement came amid high drama testimony on Capitol Hill from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault in high school. Kavanaugh will testify later in the afternoon about the allegations.

Trump telegraphed the move on Wednesday, when he said at a news conference he wanted to put off Thursday's planned meeting due to the Kavanaugh hearing and expressed hope that Rosenstein would stay in his job.

“My preference would be to keep him, and to let him finish up,” Trump told reporters in New York, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly. “I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein.” 

The president was said to have been angered by a New York Times report that Rosenstein last spring discussed secretly taping the president and recruiting other Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president.

But Trump on Wednesday cast doubt on the report, citing Rosenstein’s denial.  

“Many people said I had the right to absolutely fire him. He said he did not say it. He said he does not believe that. And nobody in this room believes it, by the way,” Trump continued.

Rosenstein has denied the Times account, but the report sparked widespread speculation that he could be fired or resign. Earlier this week, various reports emerged that the deputy attorney general was prepared to resign or be fired by the president.

Some Trump allies have argued that Rosenstein should be fired or resign if the reports are true. Democrats, meanwhile, have raised concerns about the implications for the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which Rosenstein is overseeing given Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMueller report shows how Trump aides sought to protect him and themselves Trump: 'I could have fired everyone' on Mueller team if I wanted to Five takeaways from Mueller's report MORE’s recusal.

The meeting's delay will add to the mystery surrounding Rosenstein’s fate as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, kicking any decision on his fate into next week.

Updated at 12:45 p.m.