National Security

Rosenstein submits resignation letter to Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein notified President Trump on Monday that he will leave the Justice Department in two weeks, capping roughly two years in the Trump administration marked by scrutiny and controversy. 

“I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens,’” Rosenstein wrote in his resignation letter. He said his last day at the Justice Department would be May 11.

{mosads}Rosenstein’s resignation does not come as a surprise; he was expected to leave the Justice Department following the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, having communicated to Attorney General William Barr that he intended to serve just two years in the administration.

Rosenstein’s 16-month tenure as the No. 2 law enforcement official was marked by constant drama as a result of his oversight of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which came to a close in late March.

In a statement, Barr praised Rosenstein for serving the Justice Department “with dedication and distinction” and described Rosenstein’s devotion to the department and its employees as “unparalleled.”

“Rod has been an invaluable partner to me during my return to the Department, and I have relied heavily on his leadership and judgment over the past several months,” Barr said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to work closely with him, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.  The Department and I will miss him.”

Rosenstein, a former U.S. attorney for the district of Maryland, was a little-known figure in Washington before joining the Trump administration under Jeff Sessions, the president’s first attorney general. But he quickly attracted headlines, first for authoring the memo justifying the firing of James Comey as FBI director and later for his decision to appoint Mueller as special counsel.

Rosenstein oversaw Mueller’s investigation as a result of Sessions’s own recusal and endured massive public attention as well as some attacks from Trump over the course of the investigation.

The duration of Rosenstein’s career in the administration was also called into question last fall when The New York Times reported that he had discussed secretly recording Trump and recruiting other officials to invoke the 25th Amendment to expel Trump from office. Rosenstein vehemently denied the report as inaccurate; Trump himself said he didn’t believe it, electing to keep Rosenstein on in his job.

Rosenstein wrote in the letter to Trump on Monday that the Justice Department has made “rapid progress” in achieving his law enforcement agenda in the first two years of the Trump administration, including reducing violent crime and opioid abuse and cracking down on illegal immigration.

“Our nation is safer, our elections are more secure, and our citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence efforts and schemes to commit fraud, steal intellectual property, and launch cyberattacks,” Rosenstein wrote.

“We also pursued illegal leaks, investigated credible allegations of employee misconduct, and accommodated congressional oversight without compromising law enforcement interests,” he wrote. 

Rosenstein’s official departure will come just shy of a month after the release of Mueller’s redacted report, which said the special counsel did not find conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Moscow but explicitly did not exonerate Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice.

Mueller did not reach a conclusion one way or another on whether the president obstructed the Russia probe, but Barr and Rosenstein reviewed the evidence detailed in his report and deemed it insufficient to accuse Trump of obstruction.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate this week on Mueller’s investigation and report. 

Tags Deputy Attorney general Donald Trump James Comey Jeff Sessions Justice Department resignation Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein William Barr

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