STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

What happens to the Russia investigation if Rosenstein is ousted?

With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein possibly...

Posted: Sep 25, 2018 9:40 AM
Updated: Sep 25, 2018 9:40 AM

With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein possibly on his way out, a fresh round of uncertainty has been injected into the Russia investigation, and it could take a while for things to settle down.

Rosenstein will meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday amid questions about his fate in the administration after The New York Times reported he secretly suggested recording the President and weighed forcibly removing him from office. But once -- or if -- he leaves the Justice Department, someone else will assume the responsibilities of overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller and his sweeping investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Investigations

Law and legal system

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Rod Rosenstein

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US Department of Justice

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

White House

Government departments and authorities

Justice departments

Typically, a special counsel would answer to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But he recused himself last year amid controversy about his meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. With Rosenstein out, the Justice Department's succession plan comes into play.

The Justice Department says the next man in line is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by the Senate by a 50-47 vote along partisan lines. Francisco is a conservative lawyer who worked in the Bush administration and was also active in the private sector.

But the federal government's former ethics czar disputed this succession plan Monday, as news about Rosenstein was breaking. Walter Shaub, who ran the Office of Government Ethics and is now a CNN contributor, wrote on Twitter that Francisco can't take over the probe "unless the White House has secretly issued a waiver" of an executive order that Trump signed last year.

That order says federal appointees can't participate in matters related to their former employers and clients for two years. Before joining the Trump administration, Francisco was a partner at the law firm Jones Day, which represents the Trump campaign in the Mueller probe.

Whoever takes charge of the Mueller investigation could decide that it's time to wind down the probe or dismiss Mueller altogether. The person in charge of the investigation would have the power to reject indictments and other investigative requests, including whether to refer investigations to other federal prosecutors.

Over the past year, Rosenstein has largely backed Mueller's known requests to bring criminal charges against two dozen Russians and a handful of Trump associates. He also supported requests to refer cases to other federal prosecutors, like with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. The new person in charge could draw a much harder line, complicating Mueller's job.

Any swift action against Mueller by a new appointee would almost certainly raise red flags, because Trump has mused in the past about firing Rosenstein to put a check on Mueller. If there is "corrupt intent" -- like ousting Rosenstein as a means to kill the Russia probe -- his firing could factor into Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation.

Democrats are sure to renew their calls for legislation to protect Mueller's investigation, which has been largely rebuffed by Republicans on Capitol Hill. Top Republicans have voiced support for Mueller but said there is no need to pass any bills because he isn't going to get fired.

Regardless, if Mueller's new boss shows him the door, that doesn't mean the investigation would automatically end. Many of the dozen or so lawyers working for Mueller would still be DOJ employees and the cases they're working on — especially the ones open before federal judges -- would not disappear overnight.

With Francisco next in line, DOJ ethics officials would check to see if he has conflicts preventing him from overseeing Mueller. If he has a problem, the next person to fill Rosenstein's shoes would be Steven Engel, who is an assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.

The Mueller investigation has progressed for 16 months, resulting in indictments against 35 defendants, including some top Trump officials. With large swaths of Mueller's cases now involving other US attorneys' offices and the Justice Department's National Security Division, Rosenstein's replacement might not have as much influence in the direction of the sprawling investigation.

Perhaps the biggest remaining questions are whether Mueller will seek a subpoena for Trump's testimony, which would require formal signoff from his boss at DOJ, and what to do if the investigation determines Trump broke the law during the campaign or as president.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 603760

Reported Deaths: 7605
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1247651771
Ramsey52437895
Dakota46772469
Anoka42693458
Washington27391290
Stearns22545224
St. Louis18120311
Scott17536134
Wright16400148
Olmsted13386102
Sherburne1199494
Carver1065848
Clay825492
Rice8186110
Blue Earth762343
Crow Wing681194
Kandiyohi667185
Chisago619152
Otter Tail585684
Benton582798
Goodhue483373
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona460851
Itasca458663
Isanti439564
McLeod429161
Morrison424361
Nobles407950
Beltrami406960
Steele397416
Polk388872
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352556
Freeborn346832
Pine335023
Nicollet330945
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297125
Todd285632
Cass285532
Meeker263042
Waseca237823
Martin234932
Roseau210721
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196041
Dodge18773
Renville182346
Redwood176338
Houston174016
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162422
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153838
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138637
Watonwan13589
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching94617
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88717
Wilkin83112
Lake82920
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3755
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370583

Reported Deaths: 6041
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58186638
Linn21181339
Scott20287246
Black Hawk16065312
Woodbury15227230
Johnson1460585
Dubuque13496211
Dallas1128499
Pottawattamie11214173
Story1070848
Warren583591
Clinton561393
Cerro Gordo553193
Sioux516974
Webster514494
Muscatine4875106
Marshall486376
Des Moines466970
Wapello4333122
Buena Vista426140
Jasper420872
Plymouth402981
Lee381756
Marion365976
Jones300857
Henry294137
Bremer287760
Carroll286752
Boone268334
Crawford267840
Benton258755
Washington256751
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232251
Jackson225242
Clay216527
Kossuth216166
Tama211671
Delaware210943
Winneshiek197735
Page194522
Buchanan193033
Cedar192023
Hardin187344
Fayette186443
Wright185940
Hamilton181751
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler165935
Madison164519
Mills163324
Floyd163042
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek156936
Allamakee152652
Hancock150134
Iowa149824
Winnebago144331
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131537
Sac130720
Union129935
Louisa129749
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124517
Franklin123323
Guthrie123032
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola79016
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66712
Fremont6269
Decatur6159
Ringgold56324
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon52910
Adams3444
Rochester
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 74°
Mason City
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Rain chances return later on this week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Hayfield baseball team hopes to keep the win streak going

Image

CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION

Image

Mayo Health System

Image

Pools open - pool coverage

Image

Drought Impact on local wildlife

Image

Pine Island encourages reduced water use for residents

Image

Dog Walking Forecast

Image

Mayo Clinic Reaches Construction Milestone

Image

CITY POOLS REOPEN, NEW REGISTRATION PROCESS IN PLACE TO CURB OVERCROWDING

Image

CITY POOLS REOPEN, NEW REGISTRATION PROCESS IN PLACE TO CURB OVERCROWDING

Community Events