How Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein became one of the most-watched officials in Washington
Speculation swirled Monday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would soon be fired or resign.
After the White House confirmed Rosenstein was safe for now, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced he and President Donald Trump would meet on Thursday, leaving intelligence officials temporarily relieved.
But the justice department head's future is still uncertain.
On Friday, The New York Times reported that Rosenstein had discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and wearing a wire to record their conversations. Rosenstein has disputed the report, but it is said to have pushed Trump to weigh firing Rosenstein.
Rosenstein's authority over the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 US election has made his fate a top concern for lawmakers and officials.
Here's how the "poster child for the professional, competent, ethical, and fair-minded prosecutor" became one of the most-watched officials in Washington:
Rod Jay Rosenstein was born on January 13, 1965, in Philadelphia.
He earned an economics degree in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania, where Trump graduated from the Wharton School 20 years earlier. In 1989, Rosenstein graduated from Harvard Law School.
After clerking with the DC Court of Appeals, Kenneth Starr recruited Rosenstein to investigate former President Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater Development Corporation business in Arkansas.
"I would have trusted him with anything," Philip B. Heymann, the Clinton administration's deputy attorney general, said of Rosenstein to the Washington Post.
Former President George W. Bush appointed Rosenstein as US attorney for Maryland in 2005, where he earned a reputation as the "poster child for the professional, competent, ethical, and fair-minded prosecutor."
In his 12 years as Maryland's top prosecutor, Rosenstein dealt with crackdowns on gang activity and political corruption.
Rosenstein became the 37th Deputy Attorney General when he was sworn in April 26, 2017 by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after a 94-6 Senate vote.
His wife, Lisa Barsoomian, is a former Assistant US attorney. The couple have two daughters, Julia and Allison.
Upon confirmation to a third administration, Rosenstein became the longest-serving US attorney in history.
But before the Trump administration, Rosenstein had remained largely out of the spotlight.
As the No. 2 official in the Justice Department, Rosenstein has authority over day-to-day operations and oversight of law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
But when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March 2017, Rosenstein began overseeing the probe.
Rosenstein appointed the special counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to take over the Russia investigation, including "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump."
Justice Department rules dictate Mueller's team consults Rosenstein on new evidence that may fall outside the investigation's original parameters. Rosenstein then decides to reassign the case or allows Mueller to proceed.
In the fallout from Trump firing FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, the White House cited a memo Rosenstein wrote that was critical of Comey's leadership handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Lawmakers were suddenly concerned with Rosenstein's priorities. Top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for Rosenstein to recuse himself after she said the memo read more like a "political document" than "meaningful analysis."
Rosenstein later told lawmakers he stood by the memo, which he said was neither "a finding of official misconduct" nor "a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination." Rosenstein also said he wasn't part of a "secret plan" to fire Mueller.
Aside from the memo, politicians from both parties questioned the timing of Comey's dismissal, which resembled Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," and caused some to suggest Trump was trying to interfere with the Russia probe, making Rosenstein's position even more critical.
Rumors that Trump may fire Rosenstein started swirling in April 2018 after the DAG greenlit an FBI raid on the property of Michael Cohen. Trump's longtime lawyer pleading guilty and cooperating with prosecutors marked a major concern for Trump and victory for the investigation.
As Mueller's investigation continued, Trump reportedly weighed firing Rosenstein multiple times, even tweeting in April to label him as "conflicted" because of the Comey memo.
Tensions flared again after The New York Times reported September 21 that Rosenstein had discussed wearing a wire around Trump and advocated invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
Rosenstein vehemently denied the allegations in the article, and subsequent news reports also called some of its details into question. Trump was reportedly conflicted on a decisive response.
All eyes were on the White House Monday as Rosenstein arrived for what many thought would be a dismissal, but Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said were regular meetings. Sanders also announced Rosenstein and Trump would meet one-on-one Thursday.
Intelligence officials breathed a sigh of relief once the White House confirmed Rosenstein was safe for now, with one former prosecutor saying "He is the only person, the one buffer, protecting Mueller."
But many in Washington are still watching to see if Trump will fire Rosenstein or if he will resign. His job in the Trump administration doesn't look secure quite yet.
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