US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017 to investigate links between the Russian government and President Donald Trump‘s campaign, has submitted his resignation to the president.
In a letter to Trump, Rosenstein echoed two of Trump’s signature phrases on Monday, writing that he helped staff the department with officials “devoted to the values that make America great” and adding that “we always put America first”.
According to the letter, he will leave his post on May 11.
Attorney General William Barr confirmed in a statement that the letter had been submitted.
“Rod Rosenstein has served the Department of Justice with dedication and distinction for nearly 30 years as a prosecutor, deputy assistant attorney general, US attorney, and as deputy attorney general,” said Barr.
His departure ends a nearly two-year run defined by his appointment of Mueller. The departure had been expected since the confirmation of Barr as attorney general.
“Our nation is safer, our elections are more secure, and our citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence efforts,” his resignation letter said.
In it he thanked the president for “the opportunity to serve” and said the Department of Justice “bears a special responsibility to avoid partisanship”.
“We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan, and truth is not determined by opinion polls. We ignore fleeting distractions … because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle.”
Rosenstein intended to leave in mid-March but stayed on a little longer for the completion of Mueller’s Russia investigation. Mueller submitted his report to the Justice Department in March.
Although it stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime, it did not exonerate him. Rosenstein and Barr concluded that Trump did not obstruct justice.
Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in 2017 following the recusal of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had overseen his team’s work for much of the last two years and defended his investigation.
In so doing, Rosenstein sometimes found himself at odds with Trump. He was nonetheless spared the brunt of anger directed at Sessions, whose recusal from the Russia investigation infuriated the president, leading to his forced resignation last November.
Trump repeatedly called the investigation a “witch-hunt”.
In February, Trump nominated former litigator Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein, who had often been the subject of the president’s ire.