One day after Axios White House Correspondent Jonathan Swan sent markets reeling by reporting that Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had "verbally resigned" in a conversation with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Swan is back with what he claims is the text of the resignation letter that the DOJ sent to the White House on Rosenstein's behalf.
The letter, which was reportedly written in the voice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, declared that Sessions was "confident" that Noel Francisco, the solicitor general who is said to be more amenable to Trump, would dutifully carry out the oversight of the Mueller probe.
Importantly, Axios said the statement's veracity was confirmed by three sources. Read the brief statement in full below:
Rod Rosenstein has served the Department of Justice with dedication and skill for 28 years. His contributions are many and significant. We all appreciate his service and sincerely wish him well.
Matt Whitaker, my Chief of Staff for the last year, will instill confidence and uphold the integrity of the Department as the second highest law enforcement officer in the Nation.
Finally, I am confident that Noel Francisco will oversee the special counsel with a commitment to justice as Acting Attorney General for this matter. As I have said before, the American people deserve an expeditious resolution of this investigation consistent with the rule of law.
According to Axios, talks over Rosenstein's resignation were effectively foiled after Axios published its misleading report, setting off a frenzy of media speculation that forced the White House to reconsider its tactics after markets tanked and allies of Trump warned against letting Rosenstein leave. Rosenstein initially offered his resignation to Kelly on Friday, and negotiations had been ongoing over the weekend.
Still, there's one important piece of the puzzle that Axios doesn't yet know:
What I don't yet know: How exactly the conversation between Rosenstein and Kelly changed on Monday. I don't know what terms he had demanded and how, if at all, his demands changed from Friday to Monday. As of now, it's possible that he remains Deputy Attorney General for the foreseeable future. He meets with President Trump on Thursday.
With Rosenstein expected to meet with Trump on Thursday, his fate remains uncertain. On the one hand, a New York Times report published Friday claiming that Rosie had been pushing cabinet officials to invoke the 25th amendment in what would have been a palace coup made the Deputy AG look not just bad, but biased in his oversight of the Mueller probe. On the other hand, many Trump allies have warned that firing Rosie would be "a trap" for the president.
Whatever happens, we should know more by the end of the week, as the White House will likely be looking to seize control of the narrative to avoid another bout of chaos like what investors experienced on Monday.