White House skirts questions about Rosenstein's fate, Mueller probe

Mike Pompeo made his thinly-veiled attack amid questions over whether Mr Trump would fire Mr Rosenstein

After last week's Times story, Rosenstein said, "The New York Times's story is inaccurate and factually incorrect".

Steve Doocy noted that Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow is calling for a "timeout" in Mueller's probe if Rosenstein resigns or is fired. But the latest move comes after a New York Times report of Rosenstein comments early in 2017.

Axios reported that he'd verbally resigned Monday in a conversation with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by the president.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, will meet on Thursday to discuss whether Rosenstein will stay in his job.

Speaking from NY, where he is attending the general assembly of the United Nations, Trump sought to play down the chaos surrounding Rosenstein, saying the pair will meet on Thursday, when "we'll be determining what's going on".

Rosenstein is in charge of the Russian Federation investigation since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from that, and Democrats say Trump would be obstructing the investigation if he fires Rosenstein.

Trump has always been critical of Rosenstein and the Special Counsel's investigation, calling it a politically-motivated witch hunt.

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The question of whether Rosenstein would be fired or resigned would have significant implications because it would affect whether Trump could hand-pick the next deputy attorney general.

The New York Times and Washington Post reports were based on secret memos by a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director - which some speculated may have been leaked in order to undermine Rosenstein, and in turn the Russian Federation special prosecutor Mueller.

Rosenstein later issued a second statement denying the allegations in even stronger terms: "I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false".

"I'm not going to get ahead of the conversation that's going to take place, certainly he wants things to take place", Sanders said of Trump's expected showdown Thursday with Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. A Justice Department guideline holds that an official can not be both acting attorney general and acting deputy attorney general but experts differ on whether that rule would have to be followed.

The paper says he also suggested removing the president from office by invoking the 25th Amendment to have the Cabinet remove the president. As for the 25th Amendment comment, Rosenstein wouldn't be the only member of the Trump administration to suggest it. Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury", Bob Woodward's "Fear" and Omarosa's "Unhinged" all contain anecdotes about that option being suggested.

Today, another of McCabe's memos (which were also the source of Friday's Times story) has drawn Rosenstein even more into the situation - and in a way that makes it more hard for him to look like a neutral overseer. "As I have said before, the American people deserve an expeditious resolution of this investigation consistent with the rule of law".

The events are reminiscent of the "Saturday Night Massacre" - the evening that Richard Nixon fired his Attorney General, and his deputies, until he found someone willing to fire Archibald Cox, the Special Counsel investigating Watergate.

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