US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Department of Justice official in charge of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
There has been widespread speculation that Trump might fire Rosenstein, a frequent target of Trump’s tweeted criticism, after a New York Times report claimed that he had made remarks about Trump’s fitness for office and offered to tape record conversations with him.
Asked by a reporter if he had any plans to fire him, Trump said: “No I don’t, no.”
Rosenstein was flying with Trump on Air Force One to Orlando, Florida, where Trump was set to speak to police chiefs. It was the most extensive known meeting between the two since the New York Times report. Trump and Rosenstein were supposed to meet late last month, but the US president cancelled that meeting due to a hearing on the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, who was recently confirmed to the US Supreme Court.
Rosenstein has denied the September 21 New York Times report as “inaccurate and factually incorrect”. The article said that while Rosenstein had made the suggestions over concern about chaos in the administration, none of them actually came to fruition.
Trump faces mounting pressure from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
Rosenstein assumed supervision of the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of his own contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington while serving as a Trump campaign adviser became public.
The US president had previously floated the idea of firing Rosenstein in April after FBI raids of the office and home of Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer, who has since pleaded guilty to several felonies and taken part in interviews with Mueller’s team.
Trump told reporters on Monday that he has a “good relationship” with Rosenstein.
“I didn’t know Rod before, but I’ve gotten to know him, and I get along very well with him,” he said.