Rod Rosenstein praises Trump's goals and DOJ independence in resignation letter

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein submitted a resignation letter Monday that praises the goals set by President Donald Trump while also asserting the U.S. Department of Justice’s “special responsibility to avoid partisanship.”

Rosenstein, who oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, will leave May 11, report the Washington Post, the National Law Journal, Courthouse News Service and the Wall Street Journal.

Rosenstein’s letter, addressed to Trump, praised him “for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education and prosperity, because ‘a nation exists to serve its citizens.’ ”

Rosenstein went on to stress the DOJ’s responsibility to protect the Constitution and the rule of law, which is “the foundation of America.”

“We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan, and truth is not determined by opinion polls,” he wrote. “We ignore fleeting distractions and focus our attention on the things that matter, because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle. We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first.”

Trump has nominated Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein. Rosen is a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

Before the release of the redacted Mueller report, U.S. Attorney General William Barr asserted that he and Rosenstein had found that there was no obstruction of justice, although Mueller had drawn no conclusion on the issue. Critics had viewed the conclusion as taking too great a leap to favor Trump given the information in the report.

Rosenstein also had written a memo criticizing FBI Director James Comey before Comey was fired by Trump. Rosenstein said in Senate testimony that he stood by the memo and had discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI with Jeff Sessions before Sessions became attorney general.

Also leaving the DOJ is its acting No. 3 lawyer, Jesse Panuccio, the National Law Journal reports. Before taking the position, Panuccio had worked as a partner at Foley & Lardner, as general counsel to Florida’s governor, and as counsel on the presidential campaign of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Panuccio is expected to be replaced by Claire Murray, a lawyer who formerly worked in the White House counsel’s office, according to the National Law Journal. Murray joined Barr’s staff after he became attorney general.

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