President Trump declined to say whether he will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and appeared to blame Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the fresh controversy in a radio interview that aired Monday.
Advisers to Trump have counseled him against firing Rosenstein over memos written by the former acting director of the FBI that say Rosenstein proposed secretly recording the president and pushed for his removal from office early last year.
Trump was asked whether he feels unsettled about Rosenstein’s reported actions, given that Rosenstein is overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I’m not unsettled about anything, but I’ll tell you what. We are looking at it,” Trump told host Geraldo Rivera in an interview taped on Sunday for his new show on WTAM radio in Cleveland. “It’s very early. We just read the reports. . . . We will make a determination.”
Trump also noted that Rosenstein, a former U.S. attorney, was “hired by Jeff Sessions.”
“I was not involved in that process, because you know they go out and get their own deputies and the people that work in the department. Jeff Sessions hired him.”
Trump announced the nomination of Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general in January 2017.
Details of memos written by Andrew McCabe when he was deputy FBI director were revealed Friday, prompting immediate speculation that the information would give Trump justification to do what he has long desired: dismiss Rosenstein.
But those close to Trump and some of his allies on Capitol Hill believe that a politically charged firing in advance of the midterm elections will feed a Democratic narrative of chaos in the administration and that the president should wait until after the November polls to make any changes at the Justice Department.