Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to leave post at Justice Department

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The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is confident President Donald Trump's nominee to be attorney general is committed to letting the special counsel probe led by Robert S. Mueller III run its course.

William Barr was scheduled to meet with at least three key Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans ahead of his confirmation hearing scheduled for next week.

Rosenstein took charge of overseeing Mueller's Russian Federation probe after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation. Rosenstein was seen by many as helping to protect Mueller from being fired and from other White House interference.

Rosenstein has had oversight of the U.S. Special Counsel's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible connections to Trump's campaign.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer painted a different picture in remarks on the Senate floor, citing a memo Barr wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein a year ago. The source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March.

Asked about Rosenstein's departure, first reported by ABC News, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she had not spoken to Rosenstein and would leave any announced departures to him or the president.

Now NBC is reporting, however, that Rosenstein is planning on staying on as Deputy Attorney General until Mueller submits a report.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters that Barr talked to him about his relationship with Mueller, including the fact that their wives are in a Bible study group together and Mueller has attended two of Barr's daughters' weddings. He has long overseen the investigation and has frequently drawn Trump's ire. Also, Barr wrote an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department a year ago critiquing Mueller's investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice by firing James Comey as FBI director. Rosenstein, a former United States attorney in Maryland, will have served as deputy for roughly two years by the time he leaves. Barr wrote a memo in June critical of Mueller's potential investigation into obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump in firing former FBI Director James Comey. Nevertheless, House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus targeted Rosenstein, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. But Democrats will use the hearing as an opportunity to extract commitments from the nominee about his approach to the Mueller investigation.

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