Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has privately told colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the special counsel investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, ABC News reported Friday.
Rosenstein was charged with overseeing the probe after he took office in April because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the matter amid revelations that he failed to disclose to the Senate two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The deputy attorney general eventually appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Rosenstein has said that he will allow Mueller to conduct an independent investigation free of political influence.
Rosenstein had authored a memorandum the White House said justified firing Comey, citing the former top cop’s handling of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s email use. Trump later revealed that he had made the decision to oust Comey without Rosenstein’s recommendation and instructed the deputy attorney general to build a case for firing him.
In a recent meeting with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, Rosenstein said that she would have to step in to take his place at the held of the probe if he were to have to recuse himself.
The news that Rosenstein spoke with Brand about the possibility of recusing himself followed a Friday morning tweet by Trump, in which he acknowledged that he was “being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director.”
While it was not immediately clear who exactly Trump was referring to, the tweet appeared to be directed at Rosenstein. Mueller, in fact, is the special counsel actually investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The tweet came as Mueller’s investigation appears to be widening in scope. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that it currently includes a probe into whether Trump himself attempted to obstruct justice. Another report on Thursday revealed that the special counsel was also looking into the financial dealings of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser.