Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who frequently found himself in the political crosshairs due to his role in the special counsel’s Russia probe and whose departure has long been expected, submitted his resignation on Monday to President Trump, effective May 11.
Attorney General William Barr in a statement said Rosenstein served the Justice Department “with dedication and distinction.”
“His devotion to the Department and its professionals is unparalleled,” the statement read. “Over the course of his distinguished government career, he has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace, and good humor.”
In his resignation letter, Rosenstein thanked Trump “for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education, and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens.'”
Rosenstein, 54, previously served as deputy assistant attorney general and U.S. attorney. He had intended to leave his position last month but stayed on for the completion of the Mueller probe, which Rosenstein had overseen.
In February, Fox News reported that Barr had picked Jeffrey Rosen, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to take over for Rosenstein.
Rosenstein was part of a small group of department officials who reviewed the document and helped shape its public release. After Mueller didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, Barr and Rosenstein stepped in and determined the evidence wasn’t enough to support such an allegation.
In recent months, Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe described private discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
Trump accused them of pursuing a “treasonous” plot against him. Rosenstein, though, denied pursuing a recording of the president and has pushed back on claims he broached the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. However, Rosenstein was largely spared the type of anger directed by Trump at Sessions, whose recusal infuriated the president and led to Sessions’ to his forced resignation last November.
As first reported by The New York Times last year, Rosenstein allegedly discussed wearing a “wire” to tape Trump and pursuing his removal from office in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials. This would have been in the tumultuous days after Comey was fired as FBI director, with the president citing in part a memo penned by Rosenstein — reportedly catching him off guard.
Fox News has learned one key meeting took place on May 16, 2017 at Justice Department headquarters. Several people were in the room, including McCabe and former FBI counsel Lisa Page. Mueller was appointed as special counsel the next day.
Rosenstein’s conservative critics on the Capitol Hill seized on the reports, with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, calling on him to appear before Congress to explain the comments. In July, Meadows and Jim Jordan of Ohio, another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.
Those impeachment articles accused Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That effort was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has not been voted upon.
Before named by Trump to serve as the No. 2 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Rosenstein took over the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself from the investigation. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller to his post.
Fox News’ William Mears, Alex Pappas, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.