Deputy Attorney Generals Rod Rosenstein is channeling a famous quote from Martin Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Rosenstein has struck a stoic and righteous tone in private conversations this week about the fate of his job. President Trump has been busy with public criticism against him and even consider firing him, according to three sources who have spoken to Rosenstein.
Coincidentally, former FBI Director James Comey, whom Rosenstein fired, repeated the same Luther phrase to President George W. Bush. Comey describes the conversation in his forthcoming book.
One source close to Rosenstein acknowledged that he was fully aware that he may soon lose his job and was at peace with the possibility. He is confident that he has led in his job with integrity. And he also said in private conversations that history will prove he has done the right thing by firing Comey. He claimed that the country did not have all the facts about what led to his decision to write the memo leading to Comey’s dismissal.
Rosenstein has not always had such a confident or stoic demeanor in his position. Presviously he was known to be anxious and upset under the pressure of public criticism and the president’s wrath because of the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.
If Rosenstein is fired, the next in line to oversee Mueller’s investigation is Solicitor General Noel Francisco. But Trump could choose to replace him with anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate.
Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Rosenstein was maybe more conflicted than Mueller because he “signed FISA and the Comey letter,” referring to the authorization for surveillance of former Trump campaign operative Carter Page as well as the memo that fired James Comey.
Just over the last 24 hours, 100 former DOJ career officials organized a statement challenging Congress to be ready to take action of Rosenstein is fired by Trump. The officials, who’ve served under both Republicans and Democrats, include former U.S. attorneys John McKay of Washington and Kevin Techau of Iowa.
“Many of us served with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein,” says the statement, obtained by NBC News.
“We know the people who serve at the Department will bravely weather these attacks and continue to uphold their oaths by doing only what the law dictates,” it says.
“But it is up to the rest of us, and especially our elected representatives, to come to their defense and oppose any attempt by the President or others to improperly interfere in the Department’s work, including by firing either Mr. Mueller, Mr. Rosenstein or other Department leadership or officials for the purpose of interfering in their investigations,” the officials say.
“Should the President take such a step, we call on Congress to swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law,” the letter says.