Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign after the Donald Trump Administration pinned James Comey’s firing on the memo he wrote to the president on May 9, just before the FBI Director was ultimately dismissed.
An administration source told ABC News that Rosenstein was “so upset” about the White House portraying his “RESTORING PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE FBI” memo as the last straw that he threatened to leave his post. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later told Good Morning America that she was “not aware” of Rosenstein’s threat.
In the three-page memo to the president, which was later supported by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosensetein wrote that he “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.”
The administration has said that Rosenstien’s memo was ultimately the report that pushed Trump to fire Comey on Tuesday. They have also repeatedly stated that the firing had nothing to do with Comey running an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia during the 2016 election.
However, The Washington Post has reported that Trump had grown agitated by Comey continuing the investigation. The Post reports that Trump had decided last weekend while golfing in New Jersey that Comey had to go. However, Rosenstein’s memo was dated May 9. In addition, The New York Times is reporting that Trump ordered Sessions and Rosenstein to come up with the reasons to fire Comey.
When asked if Comey was fired because of the memo, Sanders told the press on Wednesday, “That was, I think, the final piece that moved the president to make that quick and decisive action yesterday.”
Today, The New York Times editorial board also wrote an open letter to Rosenstein, a 27-year veteran of the Justice Department who only became Deputy A.G. less than a month ago, asking him to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the Russia investigation. The Times wrote that Rosenstein must understand that his “sterling reputation” is being exploited by the Trump Administration and that Trump has “compromised your ability to oversee and investigation into Russian meddling.”
“You must also know that in ordering you to write the memo, Mr. Trump exploited the integrity you have earned over nearly three decades in public service, spending down your credibility as selfishly as he has spent other people’s money throughout his business career,” the editorial reads. “We can only hope that your lack of an explicit recommendation to fire Mr. Comey reflects your own refusal to go as far as the president wanted you to.”
The Times wrote to Rosenstein that he now only has one option: appoint a special prosecutor, as even some Republicans in Congress have called for.
“Few public servants have found themselves with a choice as weighty as yours, between following their conscience and obeying a leader trying to evade scrutiny — Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, who behaved nobly in Watergate, come to mind,” The Times wrote, referring to the two men who resigned in the “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate scandal. “You can add your name to this short, heroic list. Yes, it might cost you your job. But it would save your honor, and so much more besides.”