Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein considered resigning Tuesday night after he started to be cast as the person behind the decision to fire FBI director James Comey, according to a report.
Rosenstein was upset when he started to be painted as the person whose recommendation President Trump acted on when choosing to relieve Comey of his duties, an anonymous person close to the White House told the Washington Post.
Trump had made up his mind to fire Comey Monday when he tasked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein to explain in writing why the FBI director had to be fired, White House officials told the Post. Rosenstein went on to write a three-page memorandum filled with explanations for the dismissal of Comey.
The memo criticized Comey for going public with information about Trump rival Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though Trump previously supported the FBI director for his actions.
Rosenstein’s role in the firings has surprised many in the Justice Department. Sources told CNN it’s unclear if Rosenstein acted on his own or believed he had to carry out Trump’s orders.
“It’s not consistent that he walked in here with a hit list and James Comey’s name was on the top of it,” a law enforcement official told the network. “That’s inconsistent with who he is and what everyone says. This doesn’t pass the smell test of Rod Rosenstein.”
Before Comey was fired, he reportedly had asked Rosenstein for additional funding for the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election last week. The FBI had also recently issued subpoenas to force associates of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn to testify before a grand jury.
Trump’s abrupt decision to fire Comey reportedly came about from his frustration with the director not clearing him in the Russia probe. Comey confirmed in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI was investigating Trump’s campaign.
Comey discovered he was fired Wednesday while speaking at an FBI event in Los Angeles.