Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the White House he might have to resign if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, reports the Washington Post. Sessions made his position known to White House counsel Donald McGahn on the April 14 weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid on the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. While Trump has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.
In a phone call with McGahn, Sessions wanted details of a meeting Trump and Rosenstein held at the White House on April 12. A person familiar with the exchange said Sessions did not intend to threaten the White House but rather wanted to convey the untenable position that Rosenstein’s firing would put him in. Trump had told senior officials last week that he was considering firing Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support last year. Since then, alumni of the Justice Department have rallied to Rosenstein’s defense. As of Friday, more than 800 former Justice Department employees had signed an open letter calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law” if Trump were to fire the deputy attorney general, special counsel Robert Mueller or other senior Justice Department officials. The group MoveOn.org has sought to organize protests if such an event were to occur.