President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would "much prefer" not firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, after reports indicated last week that Rosenstein had discussed secretly recording Trump and the using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office previous year.
It wasn't clear whether Trump will place any demands on Rosenstein at the meeting, such as asking him to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's probe, a person familiar with the matter said.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus is pushing for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week.
Instead, it was reported that Rosenstein and Trump talked on the phone - and questions about his future were effectively tabled until Thursday.
Trump, referencing Rosenstein's authority overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, said his "preference would be to keep him, to let him finish up".
The New York Times reported that on Monday morning, when it appeared Rosenstein was headed out the door at the Justice Department, President Donald Trump called Matt Whitaker, the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"It's speculation at this point, but Rosenstein has shown in the past - in digging in his heels and defying the Congressional subpoenas and the like - that he is not going too gently into that good night", the Christian leader offered. Noting Thursday's meeting, he said, "I think we shouldn't step in the way of that". He said he doesn't believe. "And he was very nice, and we'll see".
Now, Trump says, he wants to focus his attention on the hearing scheduled with his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and a woman who has accused him of sexual assault more than 30 years ago when they were in high school.
In August 2017 - two months prior to joining the DOJ - Whitaker penned a column in CNN where he said the president's finances should be off limits in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion.
Mr. Trump said he had spoken to Rosenstein, and Rosenstein said he "never said" he would invoke the 25th Amendment. Fox News host Sean Hannity delivered a "message to the president" on his show Friday that firing Rosenstein would play into Democratic hands.