Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the top Justice Department official overseeing the special counsel’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, has told officials that he might have to recuse himself from the investigation, according to a report from ABC News.
Rosenstein took charge of the investigation in March after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself under pressure over his own contacts with Russian officials.
Rosenstein brought up the possibility of recusing himself during a meeting with the Justice Department’s third-in-command -- behind Sessions and Rosenstein -- Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, ABC News reported.
Citing unidentified sources, the news station reported that Rosenstein told Brand she would be tasked with the final decisions regarding resources made available for the probe, headed by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller, and whether anyone is prosecuted because of the investigation.
Brand, on May 22, was sworn in as the first woman to serve as associate attorney general. She was appointed by former President Barack Obama to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and worked as an assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, according to WHO-TV.
Trump criticized an unnamed "man who told me to fire … FBI director" James Comey in a tweet Friday morning, once again calling the investigation a "witch hunt." An official confirmed to Fox News that Trump was referring to Rosenstein in the statement.
Rosenstein wrote a three-page memo on May 9 criticizing Comey for his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while in office. The White House used the memo to justify Comey’s firing.
Rosenstein told a closed session of Congress last month that he learned Comey would be dismissed one day before penning his memo. He said the president “sought my advice and input” on Comey’s firing.
In a statement late Thursday, Rosenstein cautioned Americans against “accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources are supposedly affiliated.”
It was not clear what prompted the statement, although it came hours after The Washington Post reported that the business dealings of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are being examined as part of Mueller’s investigation. The story cited “U.S. officials familiar with the matter.”