By Gregg Re, John Roberts
Published February 19, 2019
President Trump will nominate Jeff Rosen to replace outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House officials announced Tuesday, confirming previous reports and seemingly cementing the ouster of the embattled No. 2 at the Justice Department.
A graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, Rosen previously served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget (2006 to 2009) and as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation (2003 to 2006), according to his online biography.
Rosen, confirmed for his current role by the Senate in May 2017, works under Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in overseeing the daily operations of the department.
"Jeffrey Rosen is a distinguished lawyer who has served at the highest levels of government and the private sector," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. "As an attorney, he has more than 35 years’ experience litigating complex matters in state and federal courts across the country, including as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. He supervised more than 400 attorneys while serving as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation and also served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Management and Budget."
Barr continued: "He currently serves as Deputy Secretary of Transportation, where he leads 50,000 employees. His years of outstanding legal and management experience make him an excellent choice to succeed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has served the Department of Justice over many years with dedication and distinction.”
Rosenstein, who was nominated to his post by Trump in 2017, repeatedly has denied explosive allegations -- first leveled last year and revived this week in televised interviews of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe -- that he sought to wear a wire to help bring down the president.
McCabe also suggested that the deputy attorney general had broached the idea of invoking the Constitution's 25th Amendment, which governs the succession protocol if the president dies, resigns or becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated. While the amendment has been invoked six times since its ratification in 1967, the specific section of the amendment purportedly discussed by Rosenstein -- which involves the majority of all Cabinet officers and the vice president agreeing that the president is "unable" to perform his job -- has never been invoked.
McCabe specifically charged that he believed Rosenstein was "counting votes or possible votes" to invoke the amendment's procedures.
Congressional Republicans have long sought Rosenstein's departure. A group of 11 House Republicans last July introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, accusing him of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas on the Russia probe and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Fox News reported in January that Rosenstein was expected to step down in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition for Barr, who was sworn in on Thursday.
Rosenstein long thought of his role as a two-year position and the two-year mark is coming soon, officials close to the departing attorney general previously told Fox News.
Speculation of Rosenstein’s departure mounted after the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November. Rosenstein has, until recently, overseen Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. He's often been a target of President Trump on Twitter as well.
Most recently, Trump accused Rosenstein, along with McCabe, of pursuing an "illegal and treasonous" plot against him after McCabe detailed the private DOJ discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president.
“He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught," the president tweeted early Monday.
Trump continued: "There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the Military, Vets, Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”
The DOJ, in response, said Rosenstein "was not in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment" and denied the allegations.
Fox News' Nicole Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report.