Rosenstein, a frequent Trump target, will leave Justice Dept

GettyImages-1074464990

GettyImages-1074464990

Lindsey Graham, Jan. 9, 2019, in Washington.

The U.S. leader later explained that he retweeted the image because he believed Rosenstein "belongs behind bars" over his decision to pick Mueller to take over the Russian Federation probe, which Trump has repeatedly blasted as a "witch hunt", in May 2017, shortly after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey.

William Barr, President's Donald Trump's nominee to be the permanent attorney general, is scheduled to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for his confirmation hearings. Barr met with Graham and his predecessor, current Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Wednesday morning.

He said it took about "three seconds" for him to get the answer he was looking for concerning what Barr thinks of Mueller.

After an embattled turn in that role, Sessions stepped down at the end of previous year and was replaced temporarily by Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General.

Graham listed a number of questions that he had put to Barr: 'I asked Mr. Barr directly, 'Do you think Mr. Mueller is on a witch hunt?' He said no.

It is unclear how Barr's criticisms will come into play during his Senate confirmation hearing. "He must also commit to resisting political pressure placed on the Justice Department".

Rosenstein had been overseeing the day-to-day operations of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign. His interim successor, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, consulted with Justice Department officials but ultimately decided not to recuse himself. Soon after, Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued remarks about the reports of Rosenstein's purported departure.

End of the road for Rosenstein?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer painted a different picture in remarks on the Senate floor, citing a memo Barr wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a year ago.

Trump's critics have expressed concern that Barr may try to curtail Mueller's investigation, which Trump repeatedly has called a "hoax" and a 'witch hunt.' Also, Barr wrote an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department past year critiquing Mueller's investigation into whether the president had sought to obstruct justice by firing James Comey as FBI director.

Rosenstein was said to have discussed removing Trump from office or secretly recording conversations with him; he said he never authorized any action after those conversations but Justice Department sources said he expected to be fired.

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