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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, April 26, 2018

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Rachel Brand, third-highest ranking DoJ official steps down

Justice Department

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Another top ranking official at the Justice Department has announced plans to leave the department - at a time of intense political scrutiny for the department. 

Amid constant criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, now, the third-highest ranking official at the Justice Department, Rachel Brand has decided to step down.

The Justice Department announced on Friday that the first woman to serve as associate attorney general plans to resign after being in her Senate-confirmed position for nine months.

Brand would have been in line to take over the supervision of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was fired by Trump or recused himself from the matter.

Sources quoted in the New York Times, which first revealed the resignation, stated that Brand is leaving the Justice Department for a top legal job at Walmart.

In recent weeks, the possibility of Brand being thrust into the Russia investigation has increased as Rosenstein has come under political attack from Republicans.

Rosenstein had supported the renewal of a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser.

Last week, after the release of a memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee claiming abuses in the Russia investigation, Trump had stated, “I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.”

On being asked whether he was more likely to fire Rosenstein and whether he had confidence in him, Trump said cryptically, “You figure that one out.”

Ever since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe last year, Trump lashed out at him and even said that he wouldn’t have appointed Sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the probe.

Following Sessions’ decision, the Russia investigation was turned over to his second in command, Rosenstein, who in turn appointed Mueller as special counsel after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey.

A few months later, as revelations continued to emerge in Mueller’s investigation, Trump again expressed his dissatisfaction with Sessions’ decision, calling his Attorney General “beleaguered” and “very weak.” 

Trump even said at a news conference in the Rose Garden that he was “disappointed in Sessions.”

Now, reports have stated that with Brand’s departure, Solicitor General Noel Francisco is next in line at the Justice Department to oversee the Russia investigation after Rosenstein.

Sessions issued a statement on Friday, in which he said, “Rachel has shown real leadership over many important divisions at the Department. I know the entire Department of Justice will miss her, but we join together in congratulating her on this new opportunity in the private sector.”

Meanwhile, Brand too issued a statement thanking Sessions for his leadership and said, “I’ve seen firsthand his commitment to the rule of law and to keeping the American people safe.”

 

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