Amid reports Donald Trump is unhappy with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's closeness with fired FBI Director James Comey, the top ethics lawyer from ex-President George W. Bush's administration said Saturday Vice President Mike Pence will "soon become" the next US president. Between Thursday morning and Friday morning, Trump sent a series of tweets that suggest he is extremely frustrated with his current position.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters, said that no one had asked Rosenstein to make the statement and that he acted on his own. Last week, it was widely reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had offered to resign because of Trump's criticism of his decision to recuse himself from all investigations related to the Russian Federation and the Trump election campaign, in which Sessions had played a prominent role.
Oddly enough, Boente was acting deputy attorney general when Sessions recused himself, and until Rosenstein was appointed.
Trump blasted Mueller on Twitter on Thursday, saying the Russian Federation probe was being "led by some very bad and conflicted people", apparently referring to the special counsel. Comey, whom Trump fired in early May, said in Senate testimony earlier this month that the President spoke to him privately on February 14 and asked him to drop the bureau's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's alleged ties to Russian Federation.
Mueller's move came after Comey said in his June 8 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he intentionally handed over his memos, detailing each conversation he had with the president, over to Mueller. And I said yesterday, you get two more leaks like this, Rosenstein is going to have to appoint a special counsel to investigate the special counsel.
If Rosenstein recuses himself from oversight of the special counsel investigation, that role would fall to the Justice Department's No. 3 official, newly confirmed Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. ABC News reported that Rosenstein had already notified Brand that she would take over if he did so.
Rosenstein also has authority to fire Mueller, if he finds evidence of good cause.
"She added that she was "increasingly concerned" Mr Trump will fire both [investigative special counsel] Robert Mueller and Rosenstein".
"A special counsel investigating the president of the United States must first and foremost be beyond the question of conflict", he said. As determined by the Supreme Court during the Watergate crisis of 1973-74, executive privilege can only be cited in relation to congressional investigations, since it stems from the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.