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Despite What You Heard Earlier, Rod Rosenstein Is Still In His Job

“And I wish I could help with your confusion, but I too am confused with your confusion, as those watching are so confused.”

Last updated on September 24, 2018, at 3:22 p.m. ET

Posted on September 24, 2018, at 3:01 p.m. ET

Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet later this week, the White House announced Monday, after a chaotic three hours when several news outlets incorrectly reported Rosenstein was imminently leaving his job or was about to be fired.

The meeting is significant because Rosenstein is the top Justice Department official with authority over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two will “discuss the recent news stories.” She is likely referring to the New York Times reporting last week that Rosenstein had discussed potentially wearing a wire around Trump to secretly record the president and had talked about bringing together cabinet members to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Rosenstein said the story was “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” The Justice Department said the comments about recording were sarcastic.

Speculation began to circulate Friday evening — after the New York Times report — that President Trump was considering firing Rosenstein.

Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Missouri, on Friday, Trump said, “We have great people in the Department of Justice ... but you’ve had some real bad ones. You see what’s happening at the FBI — they’re all gone. They’re all gone. ... But there’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.”

Monday’s developments came after an absolutely dizzying series of reports that Rosenstein:

  • offered to resign over the weekend, but did not
  • “verbally” resigned
  • resigned and it was accepted by the White House
  • was traveling to the White House to resign
  • was traveling to the White House to be fired
  • was “expected to leave his job”

Rosenstein did travel to the White House and met with Chief of Staff John Kelly, a person familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News.

But by early afternoon, Rosenstein remained in his job.

Let’s walk through it all. Here’s the tweet that set it all off Monday morning:

SCOOP: Rod Rosenstein has verbally resigned to John Kelly. https://t.co/EoJRxueXvI

Axios reported that over the weekend Rosenstein “verbally resigned to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump.”

The 80-word story cited a “source with direct knowledge” and a “second source with direct knowledge.”

Eleven minutes later, Pete Williams of NBC reported that Rosenstein was being “summoned” to the White House.

DEVELOPING: Deputy AG Rosenstein summoned to the White House, @PeteWilliamsNBC reports on @MSNBC.

We then learned Rosenstein had turned off his cellphone.

FWIW, Rod Rosenstein has definitely turned off his cell phone.

CBS News also reported, like NBC, that Rosenstein was on the way to the White House but added that he did not, in fact, resign.

Our @PaulaReidCBS reports Rod Rosenstein is on way to the White House where he expects to be fired. A source familiar says he has not resigned yet.

A minute later, CNN reported Rosenstein had “resigned to John Kelly.”

A senior official confirms Rod Rosenstein has resigned to John Kelly.

Bloomberg reported that “Rosenstein’s offer to resign as deputy attorney general has been accepted by the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Then, three minutes later, NBC News reported that Rosenstein “won’t resign” and he demanded that “if the [White House] wants him gone, they’ll have to fire him.”

.@PeteWilliamsNBC is reporting on @MSNBC that Rosenstein is heading to the WH. But that he *won't resign,* according to Williams' reporting. Rosenstein will demand that if the WH wants him gone, they'll have to fire him.

Then the New York Times reported that Rosenstein was “expected to leave his job.”

BREAKING -- Rod Rosenstein expected to leave his job as second in command at the Justice Department - and person in charge of Russia probe -- after the NY Times revealed his discussions about taping the president and the use of 25th amendment to oust him. https://t.co/bmE119npvH

Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York who was asked to resign by the Trump administration, refused, and was subsequently fired, tweeted that the Rosenstein storyline “sounds familiar.”

A fuller narrative began to emerge: CNN reported that Rosenstein did discuss resigning with Kelly on Saturday, but did not resign. Now he was summoned to the White House, expecting to be fired.

Per @CNN sources -Over last several days Rosenstein spoke to John Kelly & said he'd resign. A 2nd source says Rosenstein said he was “thinking” of resigning The men decided to work it out on Monday Kelly said to be surprised when Rosenstein called this AM to say he's resigning

Meanwhile, the network had a live shot outside the White House, a partial and rainy scene of a black SUV’s tire. Confusion was rife.

Kate Bolduan: I'm confused why there's so much confusion. Mark Preston: And I wish I could help with your confusion, but I too am confused with your confusion, as those watching are so confused. https://t.co/FVzmFOJGSd

Some alternate theories remained.

We have now covered all possible options, other than Rosenstein will be promoted https://t.co/f7HXspLkv5

Some journalists took the broadest route possible.

Something is happening with Rod Rosenstein.

While others wanted a drink.

rod rosenstein has resigned/been fired/is expected to be fired/will not quit/ will leave his job / will refuse to go quietly into the night without a fight/ will be at happy hour along with the rest of us tonight

And devised drinking games.

new drinking game if rod rosenstein resigns, drink if rod rosenstein is fired, drink if rod rosenstein stays, drink if rod rosernstumpfh, durnk

But wait! Then it was reported that Rosenstein was in previously scheduled meetings. That’s not what happens when you get fired.

DAG Rosenstein is NOW attending a previously scheduled meeting at White House as the Deputy Attorney General, says a person familiar. It is a principal meeting. Report that he resigned is not correct, the person says.

And then, just over two hours after it all began, Sanders delivered the statement about Thursday’s meeting with Trump and Rosenstein.

Statement on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

In brief remarks to the press in New York on Monday afternoon, President Trump said he will meet Rosenstein to determine “what’s going on.”

“We want to have transparency. We want to have openness. I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time,” the president said.

Anything can still happen at any time! But this sums up early Monday very nicely.

Here at the White House there’s no sign of Rosenstein, a lone intern is keeping watch over the comms office, and no one seems to have any idea what is actually happening. Meanwhile, on Twitter, literally any employment situation is a possibility. Good job everyone.

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