Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has threatened to resign after being painted as the mastermind behind Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey on him, the Washington Post reports.
While President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director, James Comey, came as a shock for many, reports now say even a person said to be an architect of the dismissal was surprised with the way the firing was presented to the news media.
The White House cited Rosenstein’s evaluation of Comey as the driving force behind Trump’s shocking dismissal of the man leading a probe into his own campaign officials. In a memo sent Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions —who had previously “recused” himself from Justice Department investigations into the 2016 presidential election—, Rosenstein essentially provided cover for Trump to fire Comey, writing, “the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage” thanks to Comey’s actions.
But in contrast to the White House’s assertion that Rosenstein was the catalyst for Comey’s ouster, the Post reports that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on Monday and directed this attorney general and deputy attorney general to make a case against Comey for him.
Rosenstein, who had written a three-page memorandum detailing the reasons behind his recommendation for Comey’s dismissal, was painted by the White House as the main arbiter of the decision.
Trump had said he acted based on the “recommendations of Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
But as Rosenstein was thrust into the spotlight shortly after news of Comey’s dismissal broke, he was taken aback and even threatened to resign, according to a source close to the White House who was cited by The Washington Post.
According to multiple news reports Wednesday night, Trump had grown increasingly angry and frustrated over Comey’s handling of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to meddle in the 2016 election. The New York Times reported that Trump was also bothered by his inability to gain assurances of loyalty from Comey.
“He wasn’t doing a good job,” Trump said Wednesday in his first public comments about Comey’s removal. “Very simple. He wasn’t doing a good job.”
Comey was further criticized by the White House after the deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday said he had committed “atrocities” for his handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.
But sources cited by CNN said Rosenstein’s purported role in Comey’s firing seemed out of place.
“It’s not consistent that he walked in here with a hit list and James Comey’s name was on the top of it,” one law-enforcement official told the network. “That’s inconsistent with who he is and what everyone says. This doesn’t pass the smell test of Rod Rosenstein.”