(CN) – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has reportedly told associates he expects to be fired Monday in the wake of an explosive New York Times last week that said he proposed wearing a wire to record meeting President Donald Trump.
The piece, which was published Friday, also reported Rosenstein had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
Rosenstein fiercely disputed the Times’ account, while other officials characterized the suggestion of wearing a wire as “a joke.”
He is scheduled to meet with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
As multiple media reports of Rosenstein’s removal began to circulate on Monday, it sent shockwaves through the Justice Department and immediately raised questions about the supervision of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Rosenstein has overseen Mueller’s investigation. If his removal comes to pass, Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, is expected to take over supervising the probe.
Francisco, a former partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington, is the top Supreme Court litigator for the Trump administration.
He clerked for Judge J. Michael Luttig, a conservative member of the Fourth Circuit, and then the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He was later an associate White House counsel in the George W. Bush administration and also worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel for two years during the Bush administration.
On Monday, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe responded to early morning rumors of Rosenstein’s departure with a statement that said, “There is nothing more important to the integrity of law enforcement and the rule of law than protecting the investigation of Special Counsel Mueller.
“I sacrificed personally and professionally to help put the investigation on a proper course and subsequently made every effort to protect it,” McCabe said. “To me clear, I had no role in providing information of any kind to the media stories about events following Director Comey’s firing.
“If the rumors of Deputy AG’s Rosenstein’s departure are true, I am deeply concerned that it puts that investigation at risk,” he said.
Word of the impending shakeup at the Justice Department came with Trump himself in New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
In an interview with Geraldo Rivera aired Monday morning on the “Fox & Friends” television show, Trump said he was still looking at what, if anything, to do about Rosenstein’s reported actions.
“He was hired by Jeff Sessions,” Trump said.
As for Rosenstein’s future, Trump says, “We will make a determination. It’s certainly a very sad story.”
The president is reported to have contemplated firing Rosenstein in April after FBI raids of the office and home of the president’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who has since pleaded guilty to several felonies and taken part in hours of interviews with Mueller.
But the latest New York Times report came at a particularly tense time in the White House. Early last month the newspaper published an unsigned opinion piece by a senior official in the administration who wrote that there was a group of officials working to safeguard the country from the president’s most dangerous impulses.
This story is developing …