Sessions threatened to quit if Trump fires Rod Rosenstein, news report says

But don't believe for a second that his stance was based on principle.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images

According to a report in the Washington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened that he might resign his post if President Donald Trump orders the firing of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

The revelation came during a phone call between Sessions and White House counsel Donald McGahn after Trump met privately with Rosenstein on April 12, days after Rosenstein approved the raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office and residence.

Sessions feared the meeting would be confrontational and might lead to Rosenstein’s dismissal, but according to McGahn the conversation remained cordial, the Post reported on Saturday.

Trump allies in the White House and Fox News have been calling for the firing of Rod Rosenstein for months, incensed that he is allowing the probe into Russian meddling in the US election to continue. Those calls have only intensified, as Robert Mueller’s investigation has tightened around several key officials within the Trump orbit.


Firing Rod Rosenstein would be a major step towards sabotaging the Russia investigation. Because Jeff Sessions recused himself from all Russia-related matters after his own ties to Russian officials during the 2016 campaign were revealed, the authority to fire Mueller falls to Rosenstein.

Sessions himself was thought to be a target of Trump last summer. The Attorney General was attacked by the president on Twitter for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, and when asked whether he would consider firing Sessions, Trump responded, “We’ll see what happens.”

Of course, Sessions is hardly a portrait of principled stances. Should he end up resigning, it won’t be over some moral objection to presidential overreach. Sessions repeatedly lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing, first telling his Senate colleagues, “I did not have communications with the Russians,” only to admit weeks later that he had multiple meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He then lied again, claiming that those meetings were related to his work in the Senate, only to be outed by intelligence intercepts that show Sessions met with Kislyak to discuss campaign matters.

His possible resignation would likely have more to do with his complete lack of relevance should Trump move behind his back to fire Rosenstein.