Deputy US AG, who oversaw Russian Federation probe, to leave in March

Thursday, 21 Feb, 2019

After a turbulent two years for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, caught in the middle of President Donald Trump's ire over special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia-related investigation, who is the man Trump is nominating to replace Rosenstein?

Rosenstein previously oversaw the probe after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, and more recently former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker supervised Mueller.

But, CNN reported, the timing could be impacted by Trump's upcoming second summit with North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un. Barr testified during his confirmation hearings that, as he understands the regulations governing the special counsel, the report will be confidential - and any report that goes to Congress or the public will be authored by the attorney general.

Mueller spokesman Peter Carr and a Justice Department spokesperson both declined on Wednesday to comment on the CNN report.

The deputy attorney general is also "similar to a chief operating officer", Rosenstein said after assuming the position in 2017.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement distributed by the White House that she would be "sorry to lose" Rosen if he is confirmed.

Speculation about the end of the probe has been running rampant in Washington.

Barr now oversees the remaining work in the Russian Federation probe.

Although the sources say the investigation is coming to a close, plans could still change.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, special counsel's office employees carried boxes and pushed a cart full of files out of their office - an unusual move that could foreshadow a hand-off of legal work.

Several Trump associates have been indicted or charged with criminal offenses so far.

A justice department official quoted by Reuters said Mr Rosenstein's decision was not linked to renewed claims that he had once suggested secretly recording Mr Trump. The network cited a senior DOJ official in its report. Mueller has referred certain cases to other attorneys to pursue and there continues to be court cases handled by other federal prosecutors.