Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein threatened to quit after the White House tried to pin Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey on him, the Washington Post reports.
The White House originally cited Rosenstein’s evaluation of Comey as the driving force behind Trump’s shocking dismissal of the man leading a probe into his own campaign officials. In a memo sent Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who had previously “recused” himself from Justice Department investigations into the 2016 presidential election), Rosenstein essentially provided cover for Trump to fire Comey, writing, “the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage” thanks to Comey’s actions.
“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein wrote in that memo to Sessions.
But in contrast to the White House’s assertion that Rosenstein was the catalyst for Comey’s ouster, the Washington Post reports that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on Monday and directed this attorney general and deputy attorney general to make a case against Comey for him.
According to the Post, when the White House narrative on Tuesday suggested Rosenstein was the impetus behind the president’s move, Rosenstein threatened to quit. Wednesday, the administration altered its timeline of Trump’s decision, but continued to cite Rosenstein’s role in Comey’s dismissal.