WASHINGTON – Rod Rosenstein, the second highest ranking official in the U.S. Department of Justice, is set to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, the White House said Monday following hours of conflicting reports suggesting that Rosenstein may have resigned.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 elections, was first reported to have verbally resigned to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in Axios earlier Monday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, however, Rosenstein did not submit his resignation. NBC News, too, reported that Rosenstein said he would not resign and the White House would have to fire him.
Following the reports, the White House issued a statement saying that President Trump will meet Rosenstein on Thursday after he returns to Washington from the UN General Assembly. The statement also said Trump and Rosenstein have spoken over the phone. The statement did not make it clear if Rosenstein will remain in office or not.
Thursday is the same day that Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, are set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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There was widespread speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump would fire Rosenstein after The New York Times reported he discussed taping his conversations with Trump and convincing senior cabinet officials of ousting Trump through the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein denied the report and claimed that his remarks were sarcastic.
Rosenstein has served in the Justice Department for more than two decades. Because U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided in early 2017 to recuse himself from dealing with the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Rosenstein was the person who oversaw anything related to that investigation at the Justice Department.
Trump has lashed out against both Rosenstein and Sessions as a result, expressing his frustration over the actions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation and has already obtained guilty plea deals with Trump’s former campaign manager and former national security adviser.
Last year, Trump used a memo signed by Rosenstein that was critical of then-FBI Director James Comey's handling of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email investigation. Rosenstein had told people he was caught off guard and felt he had been used, according to the Times.
As he got a close-up view of Trump's interviews with prospective replacements for Comey and was attacked for his role in the firing, the Times said, "Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time."
Reuters and AP contributed to this report.