One of the most powerful men in the country appears poised to step off the Washington chess board. According to multiple reports, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will resign in the coming weeks to make room for the incoming Attorney General William Barr—if Barr is indeed confirmed. According to The New York Times, Rosenstein helped pick Barr and they worked together at the Justice Department.
Rosenstein’s time at the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be remembered with controversy. To the public, he is perhaps best remembered for an alleged plot to convince cabinet members to depose the president using the 25th Amendment and a secret recording Rosenstein would make.
Rosenstein’s critics charge that he used his powerful position to obstruct congressional oversight (in some cases to protect himself personally), direct selective and political prosecution, oversee the Robert Mueller investigation in spite of an apparent conflict of interest, approve the final extension on the government surveillance of U.S. citizen Carter Page in spite of serious questions about the justification, and provide questionable testimony about an alleged incident during which Rosenstein is reported to have threatened congressional staffers.
Rosenstein started his DOJ career in 1989 after graduating from Harvard University when he landed a coveted internship with Mueller, who was then U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts. His long friendship with Mueller led Rosenstein to identify Mueller as his role model.
Rosenstein worked for Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s role in the White House Travel Office scandal. In 2000, Starr’s office (possibly at Rosenstein’s recommendation) publicly declined prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her role in the scandal. Rosenstein is married to Lisa Barsoomian, who represented Bill Clinton in 1999. Rosenstein also worked for the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
Rosenstein survived numerous rumors of his political demise. In the past two years, I’ve identified several instances we were told Rosenstein’s departure could be expected in the near future.
On May 10, 2017, Business Insider reported that Rosenstein threatened to resign after (bizarrely) objecting to the president firing FBI Director James Comey based on Rosenstein’s recommendation.
On June 16, 2017, U.S. News and World Report cited “reports” that Rosenstein might soon recuse himself from the Trump/Russia investigation or, as the headline speculates, be fired.
On April 12, 2018, The Atlantic wrote, “Expect President Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the next few days.”
On June 19, 2018, Rep. Sheila Jackson announced Republicans were engineering an imminent firing of Rosenstein.
On September 24, 2018, Rosenstein was rumored to be about to resign or about to get fired after the New York Times article outing his musings about taping the president and leading a 25th Amendment coup. National Review reported that Rosenstein would resign to avoid being fired.
Rosenstein’s future plans have not been publicly announced.