In a week of incredibly high-stakes drama on Capitol Hill, it’s easy to forget that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein almost lost his job on Monday.
Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and will decide if his final reports are released to the public, was the subject of a torrent of rumors about his job prospects as the week began: He had already resigned, he was planning to resign, and then, by later morning, he had marched over to the White House, where he expected to be fired. None of the predictions came to pass.
At issue were reports that Rosenstein last year discussed secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to try to get him ousted from office. Trump had called the reports “very sad” and said he was looking into the matter.
But Monday came and went with no decision on Rosenstein’s job, as Trump was in New York at the United Nations. They scheduled a sit-down for Thursday. But in a Wednesday press conference, Trump hinted that he might reschedule because he wanted to watch Christine Blasey Ford testify about her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He also told reporters that Rosenstein was a “very nice” man who had denied the substance of the allegations.
On Thursday, the White House delayed the meeting until next week because Trump and Rosenstein didn’t want to “interfere” with the Ford-Kavanaugh testimony.
Whatever happens, congressional Republicans smell blood in the water. The House Freedom Caucus members who had previously introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein said that he must testify under oath about the reports, or risk being impeached.
House GOP leadership has reportedly scheduled a private hearing with Rosenstein to take place in the next few weeks.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) also announced that he intends to issue a subpoena to the Justice Department for memos written by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Those documents were cited as one of the sources for Rosenstein’s claims about removing Trump from office.
This flurry of activity comes with under six weeks to go before the midterm elections, when the GOP may lose control of the House. That means committee control would be ceded to Democrats, along with subpoena power.
Republicans are taking full advantage of the time they have left, issuing requests for high-profile witnesses to testify about FBI and Justice Department actions taken in 2016 and 2017. Former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are among the officials who have been summoned to appear before Congress.