Footage beamed out from cameras trained on the White House driveway aired for hours on Monday, as cable news anchors and commentators speculated ad nauseam about the fate of a man at the center of an investigation into the US president.
By some accounts reported earlier in the day, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the acting official in charge of the probe into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, visited the White House on Monday to resign.
Rosenstein became embroiled in a scandal that unfolded on Friday when The New York Times reported that he had floated the idea of wearing a wire to record conversations with the president. The report also indicated that he raised the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment of the US constitution to remove Trump from office, a procedure that can only be initiated by the president’s own cabinet.
Despite the word that he was set to resign, after Rosenstein emerged from the meeting on Monday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walked with him to send him off with a smile and a handshake. Rosenstein proceeded back to the Department of Justice headquarters, after which there was no news of his resignation or firing.
Sources inside the White House had told reporters of his purported plans to resign, while sources inside the Justice Department contradicted those accounts, claiming that he would force President Trump to fire him.
The White House later said that Rosenstein would meet with the president on Thursday.
Reports citing sources inside the White House suggest that Rosenstein’s departure is a foregone conclusion, but supporters of Trump in the media and Congress are divided over whether the president should force him out before or after the midterm elections in early November.
Fox News host and vocal Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity speculated on Friday that The New York Times report was an attempt to bait the president into firing Rosenstein before the elections, an action that could motivate Democratic voters.
Whoever ultimately assumes Rosenstein’s role as acting head of the Russia investigation would have authority to limit the scope of the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.