President Donald Trump’s legal team is calling for a pause of the investigation into Russian election meddling should deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation, resign or be fired.
“If in fact Rod Rosenstein does end up resigning today,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said on his radio program on Monday, “I think it clearly becomes necessary and appropriate…that there be a step back taken here, and a review, a review that has to be thorough and complete… and basically a time out on this inquiry.”
Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer and former New York City mayor, told The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon that he agrees with Sekulow’s call for a cessation of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, in the event of Rosenstein’s ouster—which was reported to be near as of Monday morning.
The White House press shop did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sekulow and Giuliani are the architects of a Trump legal strategy that is seeking to discredit and undercut the Mueller investigation, which they allege is rooted in political bias and potentially illegal investigative practices.
Sekulow reiterated that position on his radio show on Monday, suggesting that Rosenstein’s actions have contributed to an investigative culture inherently hostile to the president. An independent investigator, he said, “has to look at all these allegations both surrounding this inquiry and that initiated this inquiry,” he said, referring to alleged political bias among FBI investigators probing the Trump campaign and the so-called Steele Dossier’s role in prompting it. “How do you not address that with all of this going on?”
During his radio show, Sekulow endorsed an effort by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the probe undertaken by the first special counsel.
Rosenstein’s future at the Department of Justice was still unclear even as Sekulow contemplated the possibility of him being ousted. On Friday, it was reported that the deputy attorney general had contemplated wearing a wire when meeting with Trump and ousting the president from office via the 25th Amendment, shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Rosenstein denied the allegations and at least one source in the meeting said he was being sarcastic. But on Monday, he was summoned to the White House to meet with Chief of Staff John Kelly. The situation was extremely fluid with a wave of conflicting narratives emerging from both Trumpworld and the Justice Department about whether Rosenstein had verbally offered his resignation or if he was going to refuse to leave his job unless he was fired. By lunchtime, following Rosenstein’s arrival in the West Wing, it was unclear if he would be pushed out at all.
Even Sekulow seemed to be at the mercy of a shifting news cycle. “I don’t have any information that anyone was going to fire Rod Rosenstein,” he said on his radio show. “You evaluate the news at it develops. That’s what we’re doing here.”