Though Trump told reporters this week that the has no plans to go after Robert Mueller – the head of the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – the wildly unpopular president has purportedly criticized Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein behind closed doors, leading to some speculation that an effort to undermine the investigation may be underway.
According to a recent report, Trump apparently deemed Rosenstein “a Democrat” and has argued that his independent approach to overseeing the Russia investigation constitutes a direct threat to his administration.
Rosentstein took control over the Russia probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself earlier this year. Sessions had been caught lying about his contacts with Russian officials while acting as a Trump campaign surrogate and playing a major role in the presidential transition team.
In recent weeks, Trump allies and conservative media outlets have whipped up hysteria over Mueller’s investigation, calling it a political witch hunt. Fox News went so far as to call the special counsel’s work a “coup.”
Appearing before the House last week, Rosenstein defended the probe, stating that “the special counsel’s investigation is not a witch hunt,” and confirming that he has no intention to fire Mueller.
Trump nominated Rosenstein as deputy attorney general in January, 2017. After Sessions’ recusal, Rosentein selected Robert Mueller – a former head of the FBI who enjoys bipartisan praise for his impartiality – to oversee the Russia investigation as its chief prosecutor.
Mueller is a Republican, appointed by a fellow Republican (Rosenstein) who was himself appointed by the sitting Republican president (Trump).