Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is reportedly stepping down in a matter of weeks.
NBC News reported that Rosenstein had long intended to serve about two years as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, these officials say. They add that this is his own plan and that he is not being forced out by the White House. That’s despite the fact that he’s been a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump on Twitter.
The administration officials say he plans to remain on the job until after a new attorney general is confirmed. After pushing out Jeff Sessions in November, Trump nominated William Barr, who planned to be at the Capitol on Wednesday, beginning a round of courtesy calls with senators ahead of his confirmation hearing, which begins Jan. 15.
Watch the video:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to step down from his role in the Justice Department in the coming weeks.
A source confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Rosenstein always expected to serve for about two years, and said he is likely to leave after attorney general nominee Bill Barr is confirmed by the Senate.
Barr’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee begin Tuesday, and once he’s confirmed, he will officially replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced to resign by the White House in November. Barr’s confirmation vote will likely not before mid-February.
The source said Rosenstein is not being pushed out, and that he is timing his departure in order to make sure there is a smooth transition to the next deputy attorney general.
After Sessions’ departure, there was speculation that Rosenstein would depart soon after. Yet he remained in his post after Matt Whitaker, the former chief of staff for Sessions, was named acting attorney general.
Rosenstein appointed and has overseen special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation since May 2017. Rosenstein’s office still manages the probe’s day-to-day operations, but Whitaker oversees it.
Barr, if confirmed, will oversee the inquiry in its entirety.
Rosenstein was only able to appoint Mueller after Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation. It is not expected that Barr would recuse himself as attorney general from oversight, though he will get grilled on his views of a special counsel.
Rosenstein has been a frequent target of President Trump’s ire on Twitter. The president recently re-posted an image of Rosenstein and high ranking officials behind prison bars in November.
Rosenstein was never criticized as heavily as Sessions was by Trump, but he drew did draw criticism from the president for signing a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Trump has also routinely called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”
Rosenstein has also drawn the criticism of Trump-allies Republican lawmakers, who have consistently accused the Justice Department of being biased at the top levels.
Last year, conservative lawmakers went as far as to draft articles of impeachment for Rosenstein for what some lawmakers called “slow walking” turning over documents requested, but the effort never came to fruition.
There was also renewed speculation that Rosenstein would resign or be forced out after reports emerged in September that he discussed wearing a “wire” to record conversations with Trump, and that he was recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
But Rosenstein denied the report, and he and Trump patched up their relationship shortly in early October.
Nominated by Trump in 2017, Rosenstein previously served as U.S. attorney for the district of Maryland. For more than 15 years before that, he served in senior roles throughout the Justice Department.