WASHINGTON (AP) — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is flying Monday with President Donald Trump on Air Force One to a police chiefs’ conference in Florida.
The flight provides an opportunity for their most extensive conversation since news reports last month that Rosenstein had discussed possibly secretly recording Trump to expose chaos in the White House and invoking constitutional provisions to get him removed from office.
The reports, which Rosenstein denied, fueled speculation that Rosenstein might be fired or resign. Rosenstein told officials that he would be willing to resign and met at the White House with chief of staff John Kelly during a chaotic day two weeks ago that ended with him still in his Justice Department job.
Rosenstein and Trump had been expected to meet at the White House days later, but that meeting was put off so that the president could focus on a confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It was not immediately clear if the flight would substitute for the pre-planned White House meeting.
Trump has said publicly that he would prefer not to fire the Justice Department’s No. 2 official and that Rosenstein has told him he did not say the remarks attributed to him. Advisers had also cautioned Trump against doing anything dramatic in the weeks before the midterm elections next month, suggesting Rosenstein’s job is safe at least for now.
Trump is scheduled to speak Monday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Orlando.
Any termination or resignation of Rosenstein has the potential to affect the special counsel’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign since Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to the job of special counsel and closely oversees his work.
Although Trump has at times criticized his deputy attorney general, he has reserved his sharpest verbal attacks at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused from the Russia investigation in March 2017 because of his involvement with the Trump campaign.
Besides the meeting with Trump, Rosenstein has also agreed to a private meeting with House Republicans who want to question him about his reported statements on the president.