President Trump told reporters that he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, as the pair boarded Air Force One en route to Florida.
Trump said that he would be “talking on the plane” with Rosenstein, but added that the two “actually have a very good relationship,” and “get along very well.” When asked whether he had any plans of firing Rosenstein, Trump replied “No I don’t, no.”
Trump’s comments came as himself and Rosenstein departed for the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference in Orlando, Florida, on Monday.
Before the flurry of activity around the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh dominated headlines, Trump was due to meet with Rosenstein two weeks ago, following a New York Times report that Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire to gather evidence against Trump and remove him from office for being unfit.
Before the proposed meeting, media reports circulated stating that that Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly ahead of the planned meeting, while others reported that Rosenstein was on his way to the White House “expecting to be fired,” and would not voluntarily resign.
Rumors of Rosenstein’s plans to remove Trump for unfitness via the 25th Amendment were rubbished by Trump administration officials, including US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Nevertheless, Trump stoked rumors of Rosenstein’s impending departure when he vowed at a rally in Missouri to rid the Justice Department of “a lingering stench,” and clean it of “really bad people,” without explicitly mentioning Rosenstein by name.
In addition to his alleged comments about ‘wiretapping’ the president to trigger the 25th Amendment, Trump’s apparent anger at Rosenstein stems from the Deputy AG’s signing off on the Mueller investigation, despite the fact that the FBI had no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia at the time. This absence of evidence was once again brought up last month when details of former agency lawyer Lisa Page’s testimony to a closed-door Congressional hearing in July was made public. Page told lawmakers that “as far as May 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question (of collusion).”
Trump reacted furiously, tweeting that “the case [against Trump] should never have been allowed to be brought. It is a totally illegal Witch Hunt!” Rosenstein’s ‘scope memo,’ which outlines his rationale for opening the Mueller investigation and the investigation’s boundaries, is still a secret.