Trump vents ‘frustrations’ about pivotal justice official

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created shows a March 13, 2018, file photo of US President Donald Trump (L) at the White House and a December 13, 2017, file photo of US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Capitol Hill

Washington (United States) (AFP) – The White House on Friday said President Donald Trump is frustrated with his deputy attorney general — a pivotal figure in Russia investigation — raising the specter he may soon be fired.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to rule out the departure of Rod Rosenstein, a first step to removing special counsel Robert Mueller and a leap toward a constitutional crisis.

“I don’t have any announcements at this time. The President has voiced some frustrations, but beyond that, I don’t have anything to add,” Sanders said.

With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from overseeing the investigation into collusion with Russia, his deputy has the power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Rosenstein has refused to fire Mueller without cause and has infuriated Trump by authorizing a raid on the offices of the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

In what appeared to be an concerted effort to push Rosenstein out, Trump’s allies took to Twitter and television to make their case, while his allies in Congress turned up the heat on the Justice Department veteran.

Lawmakers Devin Nunes, Trey Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte demanded Rosenstein produce memos from former FBI director James Comey, which may prove an impossible request.

“Rosenstein will be forced to choose between turning over material that they’ll share with Trump to help him get his story straight or being fired for refusing to help them undermine the rule of law,” said Walter Shaub, the former head of the White House’s internal ethics watchdog.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey warned that if Trump fires Rosenstein it would push the country into “a constitutional crisis the likes of which we have not seen since Watergate.”

Richard Nixon’s similar order to fire a special counsel investigating that scandal was ruled illegal and hastened the end of his presidency.