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Trump: 'I Would Much Prefer Keeping Rod Rosenstein'

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves the White House on Sept. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — President Trump said he might delay his planned Thursday meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because of the attention around that day’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Brett Kavanaugh and one of the Supreme Court nominee’s accusers.

Asked at a UN press conference today if he plans on firing Rosenstein, Trump replied, “I’m talking to him; we’ve had a good talk. He said he never said it, he said he doesn’t believe it. He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see. And he’s a member of the Trump administration, in that sense it’s the Justice Department.”

Rosenstein denied a report in the New York Times last week that alleged he wanted to surreptitiously record Trump and discussed rallying cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment to remove the president from office.

The report claimed Rosenstein made the suggestions in spring 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and the president met privately in the Oval Office with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The NYT said that Rosenstein’s comments were reflected in FBI memos from former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Rosenstein’s visit to the White House on Monday morning sparked a false alarm about the No. 2 Justice Department official being fired or resigning. The White House said conversations between Rosenstein and Trump would continue at a Thursday meeting, after Trump returned from UN General Assembly events.

“I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick. So I don’t want it competing and hurting the decision, one way or the other, decision,” Trump told reporters today.

“We have caught people doing things that are terrible. I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein, much prefer,” he said. “Many people say I have the right to, absolutely, fire him. He said he did not say it, he said he does not believe, and nobody in this room believes” the part about the 25th amendment.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters at his press conference in Washington today that Trump “obviously should have political appointees that he has faith and confidence in” and “we should let the president work it out with Rod Rosenstein.”

“I hope they have a good, productive conversation, and I think that’s helpful,” Ryan said. “I’ve said this all along: A special prosecutor — the special counsel, excuse me, should be free to complete his work. That goes without saying. And it should be free to complete its work without any political interference. I don’t think he will be fired. I don’t think the president’s going to fire him. I don’t think the president should fire him — Mueller, I’m talking about. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, sorry, not Rosenstein. Mueller.”

Ryan said Congress “shouldn’t step in the way” of Rosenstein and Trump working it out just as House Freedom Caucus foes of the deputy attorney general are pressing for him to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Tuesday that he would issue a subpoena if the Justice Department doesn’t turn over fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe’s memos this week.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters today that “there’s not been any definitive yes or no” on whether Goodlatte would call Rosenstein to testify.