Trump: No plans to fire deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein

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Donald Trump says he has no plans to fire deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, delivering a reprieve for the Justice Department official whose future has been the source of intense speculation for two weeks.

The president told reporters at the White House that he had “a very good relationship” with Mr Rosenstein and was eager to speak with him aboard Air Force One on a flight to Florida for the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.

They spoke for about 45 minutes, but not alone, a White House spokesman said.

The group discussed violent crime in Chicago, support for local law enforcement, border security, the police chiefs’ conference and “general DOJ business”, spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

Rod Rosenstein
Rod Rosenstein (Evan Vucci/AP)

The flight provided an opportunity for their most extensive conversation since news reports last month that Mr Rosenstein had discussed the possibility in early 2017 of secretly recording Mr Trump to expose chaos in the White House and invoking constitutional provisions to get him removed from office.

The reports triggered an avalanche of speculation about the future of Mr Rosenstein — and also the investigation into possible co-ordination between Russia and the Trump campaign since the deputy attorney general appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to lead the probe and closely oversees his work.

“I didn’t know Rod before, but I’ve gotten to know him,” Mr Trump said at the White House. “I look forward to flying with him. It’ll be very nice.”

The Justice Department has denied that Mr Rosenstein proposed invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and issued a statement that said the remark about recording the president was meant sarcastically.

Even so, Mr Rosenstein told officials he was willing to resign and arrived at the White House at one point with the expectation that he would be fired.

He met White House chief of staff John Kelly and spoke by phone with Mr Trump during a tumultuous day that ended with him still in his job.

Mr Rosenstein and Mr Trump had been expected to meet at the White House days later, but that meeting was put off so the president could focus on a confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Mr Trump had previously said he would prefer not to fire the Justice Department’s number two official and that Mr Rosenstein had told him he did not say the remarks attributed to him.

Advisers had also cautioned Mr Trump against doing anything dramatic in the weeks before the mid-term elections next month.

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