While Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein contacted White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and counsel Don McGahn multiple times over the weekend to discuss his resignation considerations, it was reporters’ calls to the Department of Justice on Monday morning that prompted him to believe he was going to be fired, The New York Times reported.
When journalists started contacting the Justice Department around 9 a.m. on Monday, asking whether it was true that Rosenstein was going to resign, officials translated the calls as proof that the White House wanted to expedite Rosenstein’s departure, according to administration officials, people close to Rosenstein, and lawmakers who spoke to the Times.
Rosenstein and his top aide Ed O’Callaghan then headed to the White House, and DOJ officials began telling reporters that Rosenstein expected he would be fired when he arrived, per the Times. The Justice Department even crafted a statement for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to release if he was ousted.
The New York Times reported that Rosenstein was visibly emotional when he arrived to meet with McGahn, who suggested he speak with Kelly about his concerns. Kelly reportedly told Rosenstein that his ousting before the midterms elections would be damaging to Trump.
It was not clear when the two spoke, but according to the Times, Trump and Rosenstein on Monday had an “extended conversation” about the article that the Times published on Friday. That piece outlined moves by Rosenstein that may have validated some of Trump’s most paranoid fears: that Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire to record Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein denied the Times report in two separate statements over the weekend.
By 1 p.m. Monday, multiple news outlets had fumbled reports of Rosenstein’s impending departure and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement saying Trump and Rosenstein would meet on Thursday, an anticipated busy news day.