Amid Furor, Trump Pushes Pause on Deciding Rosenstein's Fate - NBC10 Boston
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Amid Furor, Trump Pushes Pause on Deciding Rosenstein's Fate

Messages from staff, outside advisers and cable TV were mixed, but more were in favor of containing the urge to fire Rosenstein, a move that would declare open warfare with the Justice Department

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Amid Furor, Trump Pushes Pause on Deciding Rosenstein's Fate
    Evan Vucci/AP, File
    In this July 13, 2018, file photo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Rosenstein is denying a report in The New York Times that he suggested last year that he secretly record President Donald Trump in the White House to expose the chaos in the administration. Rosenstein says the story is “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

    As Air Force One streaked across the desert sky and Las Vegas faded in the distance, President Donald Trump began seeking opinions.

    The TVs on the plane, tuned as always to Fox News, carried headlines about an explosive new story: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire to secretly record Trump, and raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

    On the flights both to and from a Missouri rally, Trump polled staff on the plane, called his outside network of advisers and kept a careful eye on what his favorite hosts on his favorite network were recommending.

    The messages were mixed, but more were in favor of containing the urge to fire Rosenstein, a move that would declare open warfare with the Justice Department and cast doubt on the future of the special counsel's Russia probe, according to two people familiar with the exchanges but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

    Shutdown, Russia Woes Grow for Trump

    [NATL] Shutdown, Russia Woes Grow for Trump

    President Trump lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi amid the ongoing government shutdown and more troubling revelations about the 2016 election. NBC's Tracie Potts reports.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    Trump, though telling confidants that he felt the moment was another example of the "Deep State" and media conspiring to undermine him, held off dismissing Rosenstein. For now.

    But the aftershocks of the story are rattling Washington still.

    "He shouldn't fire Rosenstein unless you believe Rosenstein's lying. He says he did not do the things alleged," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. on "Fox News Sunday."

    "But there's a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being discovered here. Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election, tip it to (Hillary) Clinton's favor. After the election they're trying to undermine the president."

    The details of the memos written by a former deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe, triggered immediate speculation that the information would give Trump the justification to do what he has long desired: dismiss Rosenstein, the Justice Department official overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    The story broke as Trump was in his motorcade heading toward a Department of Veterans Affairs event in North Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, though some in the White House had been alerted to the report the day before. Rosenstein immediately put out a statement refuting the story and then, after being summoned to the West Wing that evening by White House chief of staff John Kelly, put out a second, stronger denial.

    More Migrant Families Separated Than Initially Reported

    [NATL] More Migrant Families Separated Than Initially Reported

    Thousands more migrant families may have been separated than the government initially reported, a watchdog group said, possibly due to ongoing problems keeping track of children.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    At the same time, at a rally in Springfield on behalf of Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley, Trump made a cryptic remark about removing the "lingering stench" from the FBI and Justice Department but did not explicitly bring up the Rosenstein story.

    Later, the president angrily asked confidants, both inside and outside the White House, how to respond. He received mixed messages. Some urged him to fire Rosenstein. Others suggested restraint while seeing if the report was incorrect or if it was planted by some adversary.

    Still others believed that firing Rosenstein before the November election would further the Democratic talking point of an administration in disarray and damage the Republicans' chances of keeping control of Congress.

    Trump also received conflicting advice from his other team of counselors: the hosts at Fox News. While Laura Ingraham initially urged Trump to fire Rosenstein, Sean Hannity pleaded with the president not to act.

    "It is all a setup," said Hannity, seeming to directly address Trump. "Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody."

    And on Saturday, another Trump cable favorite, Jeanine Pirro, took to Twitter to wonder if Rosenstein himself leaked the story "to force" Trump to fire him.

    ICE Detains Marine Veteran

    [NATL] ICE Detains Marine Veteran, Says No Investigation

    Family members are furious that a U.S. citizen and military veteran ended up in an immigration detention center facing the threat of deportation. Jilmar Ramos-Gomez was born and raised in Grand Rapids. His mother says he served a tour in Afghanistan while in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    Spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, Trump continued to ask allies about the reports and fumed about the involvement of McCabe, whom the president has long believed conspired against him. McCabe was fired this spring not being fully truthful under oath.

    But the president's attention was also divided while at Bedminster, as he was focused on developments in Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings while also being urged by aides to prepare for the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.

    Trump, never shy to loudly express disappointment in the Justice Department, has not tweeted about the matter. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

    "Rod deserves the right to be heard," said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on CBS' "Face the Nation."

    "And I'm sure at some point the president will bring Rod in and say, 'Rod if you think I am incompetent, if you feel the need to wear a wire when you're talking to me, then why are you serving in my administration?'"

    Democrats urged that Rosenstein be spared.

    Trump Discusses New US Missile Defense Strategy

    [NATL] Trump Discusses New US Missile Defense Strategy

    President Donald Trump discussed his plans for a revamped missile defense strategy during a speech at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019)

    The report "must not be used as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Rosenstein in order to install an official who will allow the president to interfere with the Special Counsel's investigation," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted.

    But the reports create even greater uncertainty for Rosenstein in his position at a time when Trump has lambasted the department's leadership and publicly humiliated both Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Some of Trump's fiercest congressional allies had already floated trying to impeach the deputy attorney general.

    It's also the latest revelation that could affect Mueller.

    Sessions withdrew from the Russia inquiry soon after he took office, to Trump's dismay, and Rosenstein later appointed Mueller. Trump has resisted calls from conservative commentators for more than a year to fire both Sessions and Rosenstein and appoint someone who would ride herd more closely on Mueller or dismiss him.

    The reported conversation about possibly secretly recording the president took place at a tense May 2017 meeting during the tumultuous period that followed Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey. The White House said that decision, which upset many rank-and-file agents, was based on the Justice Department's recommendation. The Justice Department issued a statement from one of the participants in the meeting who described the remark as sarcastic.

    Justice Department officials also told NBC News that Rosenstein made the remark as a joke. They said Rosenstein does not believe Trump should be removed from office through the use of procedures outlined in the Constitution's 25th Amendment

    Shutdown Relief: Easing the Burden

    [NATL] Shutdown Relief: Easing the Burden

    As the government shutdown drags on, companies, restaurants and service providers across the country are coming up with ways to help the estimated 800,000 Americans not getting paid. NBC's Dan Scheneman reports.

    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019)

    Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.