ABC News reports: The senior Justice Department official with ultimate authority over the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the matter, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ own recusal, sources tell ABC News.
Those private remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are significant because they reflect the widening nature of the federal probe, which now includes a preliminary inquiry into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly tried to curtail the probe and then fired James Comey as FBI director.
Rosenstein, who authored an extensive and publicly-released memorandum recommending Comey’s firing, raised the possibility of his recusal during a recent meeting with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s new third-in-command, according to sources.
Although Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to lead the federal probe, he still makes the final decisions about resources, personnel and — if necessary — any prosecutions.
In the recent meeting with Brand, Rosenstein told her that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over those responsibilities. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago. [Continue reading…]
Eric Levitz writes: Brand boasts the quintessential résumé for a GOP Justice Department appointee. A graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was active in the arch-conservative Federalist Society, Brand clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy before joining a white-shoe law firm, lending a hand to Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign, and then taking a job in the George W. Bush administration.
During the Bush years, Brand first worked under White House counsel Alberto Gonzales (where she may have learned a thing or two about politicizing law enforcement), and then in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.
Once Bush gave up steering America into epochal domestic and foreign policy crises for watercolor painting, Brand returned to the private sector. [Continue reading…]