Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who will depart from the number three spot at the Department of Justice, countered rumors during an exclusive interview with Fox News that her decision to resign was in any way connected with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Brand gave no specific reason for her resignation when she announced it this month, leading to speculation the move was related to the Mueller Russia investigation, over which she would have assumed authority if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were to step down.
“Anyone who actually knows me knows that had nothing to do with my departure,” Brand told Fox News, hitting back at the rumors and insisting her departure was primarily due to the offer of a lucrative top legal position at Walmart.
She called that position, Walmart’s “global governance director,” a job “most lawyers would dream their whole career about taking.”
“I never had any reason to think that the Mueller probe would come to me, and even if it had, it has nothing to do with why I left the department,” Brand told Fox. “This was about seizing an opportunity, not about leaving DOJ.”
Brand also refused to point to conflict with the Trump White House as the motivation for her leaving after nine months. “I think that the overwhelming majority of the DOJ workforce does a pretty good job of tuning that out,” she said.
Fox also quoted a source close to Brand who downplayed the idea that she was “overwhelmed” at DOJ. “If she really wanted to leave DOJ, she wouldn’t uproot her whole family to Arkansas, she could have easily found something closer to home,” the source said.
Brand has spent her final days in government on something of a victory lap, having secured passage of the Section 702 wiretap re-authorization, a project she largely oversaw and told Fox News “was a huge win for the intelligence community and for all Americans.”
“On the night of the cloture vote in the Senate, it was extremely tight, we had to get to 60 votes,” Brand told Fox News. “The floor was held open for hours because we needed that 59th and 60th vote and to work closely with [Director of National Intelligence Daniel] Coats … was an incredible honor and a pleasure.”
Brand gave an extended address last week to the Washington, DC, chapter of the conservative Federalist Society at which she touted many of her department’s achievements during her tenure.
The administration has yet to nominate a replacement for Brand at the Associate AG position.