The Biggest Justice Department Official Yet Just Stepped Down

White House: No plans to fire Rod Rosenstein

The third-ranking official at the US Justice Department is resigning just 9 months after taking the powerful position, the New York Times reported Friday, February 9.

Rachel Brand, nominee to be Associate Attorney General, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington March 7, 2017. Spokespeople for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to TPM's inquiry about the report. A second friend close to Brand told CNN she was being heavily courted for some time and was wrestling with the decision on whether or not to leave the Justice Department, describing the job as a "once in a lifetime job".

Such a move could have put her in charge of the special counsel and, by extension, left her in the cross hairs of the president.

Brand's sudden reported resignation follows several other high-profile departures in federal law enforcement during Trump's first year and change in office.

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In 2012, president Barack Obama appointed her to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which reviewed the legality of the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, especially its data collection on U.S. citizens, which Brand defended. She's the person most likely to take over should Donald Trump fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but she'd given no indication that she'd be any more willing to do Trump's bidding and fire Robert Mueller should Trump fire Rosenstein.

A 1998 graduate of Harvard Law School, Brand worked in the White House Counsel's office under Republican former President George W. Bush, and helped draft his executive order creating the Department of Homeland Security. She has been seen as a rising star within the conservative legal world. She supervised the department's civil, antitrust and environmental divisions, among others.

The attacks have escalated in recent weeks as Republicans in Congress have criticized the handling by the Justice Department, FBI and the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court of warrants for surveillance of a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, who had ties to Russian Federation.

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