Jeff Sessions reportedly warned the White House he may resign if Trump fires Rosenstein

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly warned the White House that if President Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, then he might leave as well.
  • Trump's fury toward Rosenstein reached its apex last week after it surfaced that Rosenstein had greenlit the FBI's decision to raid the personal property of Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
  • Sessions' reported warning highlights the political firestorm that would likely ensue if the president ousts the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House last weekend that if President Donald Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, it may prompt his departure as well, The Washington Post reported.

Sessions apparently conveyed his sentiments in a phone call with Don McGahn, the White House counsel.

Trump has long stewed over Rosenstein, who assumed oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation after Sessions recused himself last year. Rosenstein also appointed former FB director Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of the probe after Trump ousted FBI director James Comey last May.

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Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein working together
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Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein working together
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a summit about combating human trafficking at the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, look on at a summit about combating human trafficking at the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attend a summit on crime reduction and public safety in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attend a summit on crime reduction and public safety in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L), and Deputy U.S. Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein participate summit to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking, at the Justice Department, on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L), and Deputy U.S. Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein participate in a summit to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking, at the Justice Department, on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 4: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, holds a press conference announcing on-going leak investigations, on August, 04, 2017 in Washington, DC. At right is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrive to address the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety in Bethesda, Maryland on June 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 20: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein applaud during the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety at the Hyatt Regency hotel June 20, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, when he served as an advisor to the campaign of President Donlad Trump. Rosenstein took over the Justice Department's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election after Sessions recused himself. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 20: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L) and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sit next to each other on stage during the National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety at the Hyatt Regency hotel June 20, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, when he served as an advisor to the campaign of President Donlad Trump. Rosenstein took over the Justice Department's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election after Sessions recused himself. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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As Mueller’s investigation gains steam, Trump has lashed out at Sessions and Rosenstein, as well as other current and former senior Justice Department officials.

But the president’s fury reached an apex last week, when it surfaced that the FBI had raided the home and office of Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and seized several documents and records, including several that pertain to Trump’s personal and business activities. He grew enraged at Rosenstein in particular, after it emerged that Rosenstein had personally greenlit the FBI’s decision to raid Cohen’s property.

In the wake of the revelations, Trump openly discussed firing Rosenstein among his advisers and the White House drafted a list of talking points meant to discredit the deputy attorney general. Meanwhile, Trump’s allies in Congress and the right-leaning media sphere also heightened their calls for Rosenstein’s and Mueller’s firing.

However, Trump is said to have backed off after Rosenstein told him during a visit to the White House last week that he was not a target of the Cohen probe. Afterward, Bloomberg reported, Trump told his closest advisers that now was not the time to fire Rosenstein.

Sessions’ phone call to McGahn highlights the political firestorm that would have been sparked had Trump fired Rosenstein. A senior administration official told The Post that Sessions does not approve of the way Trump has treated Rosenstein and has felt that way for months.

The official added that Sessions has regularly sought guidance from the White House about Rosenstein’s standing in the president’s eyes and has asked about his interactions with Trump.

Meanwhile, more than 800 former DOJ officials wrote an open letter last week calling on Congress to move to protect Rosenstein and Mueller.

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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks reportedly announced her resignation after testifying about her job and being required to tell "white lies."

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

H.R. McMaster was replaced by John Bolton as national security advisor in March 2018.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn announced his resignation in March 2018 after becoming a key architect of the 2017 tax overhaul 

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

President Trump announced David Shulkin was out as secretary of veterans affairs by sending a tweet announcing he had nominated his personal physican, Ronny Jackson, to replace him on March 28, 2018.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter arrives with U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. February 5, 2018. Picture taken February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 Omarosa Manigault 

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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