Amid furor, Trump pushes pause on deciding Rosenstein's fate

DOJ Source Claims Rod Rosenstein Was Joking

Mr. Rosenstein's alleged comments were first reported Friday by The New York Times, citing sources familiar with the conversations or with Mr. McCabe's subsequent memos.

Rosenstein has been a frequent punching bag for Trump supporters for appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to take over a federal probe of suspected Russian meddling in the USA election and potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Graham said he didn't favor firing Rosenstein, who has denied the report and said he never advocated for removal of the president.

Amid the latest fears of a high-level "bureaucratic coup", Mr. Trump is vowing to weed out the "lingering stench" of hostility toward him that he says exists inside the Justice Department.

He reportedly became alarmed after Trump cited a memo written by Rosenstein to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

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Coming on the heels of an explosive book by respected White House chronicler Bob Woodward, the reports added to mounting evidence indicating that numerous people in Trump's own government have serious doubts about his fitness for office - and have actively worked to undermine him.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pauses while testifying before a House Committee on the Judiciary oversight hearing on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 in Washington.

"If you're not, you should take this time to do something more productive", he said.

As the number two Justice Department official, Rosenstein oversees the probe into whether Trump's 2016 election campaign colluded with Russians in defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.

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 Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department but did not explicitly bring up the Rosenstein story. While Laura Ingraham initially urged Trump to fire Rosenstein, Sean Hannity pleaded with the president not to act. 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 Justice Department also has drawn attention to other instances in which Mr. McCabe has made statements that later have been proved false.

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