Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to meet on Thursday

Mr Rosenstein is overseeing the Mueller investigation after Jeff Sessions left recused himself from the investigation

Mr Rosenstein is overseeing the Mueller investigation after Jeff Sessions left recused himself from the investigation Credit SAUL LOEB AFP

President Donald Trump and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, will meet on Thursday to discuss whether Rosenstein will stay in his job.

The Trump-Rosenstein meeting will be on the same day as an extraordinary Senate committee hearing featuring Kavanaugh and a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Mr. Trump and Rosenstein had "an extended conversation" Monday "to discuss the recent news stories" at Rosenstein's request.

Any termination or resignation would have immediate implications for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible collaboration between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign before the 2016 election.

Several US media reports, including in The New York Times and The Washington Post, said Mr Rosenstein was preparing to be dismissed, following the publication of reports that he had discussed ways to remove Mr Trump over the latter's perceived incompetence. He expected to be fired on Monday, when he met with John Kelly, Trump's chief of staff.

Any firing or resignation spells immediate uncertainty for an investigation that Rosenstein oversees and would place that responsibility in the hands of a replacement who Democrats fear would be less respectful of Mueller's independence and mandate.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the highest-ranking Senate confirmed official below Rosenstein in the Justice Department, would take control of the Mueller investigation.

He dispatched his former bodyguard to fire FBI Director James Comey - though Comey was out of town. In that conversation, Rosenstein said he was willing to resign, but McGahn urged him to wait until they could talk further Monday morning, this person said.

There had been widespread speculation that Trump would fire Rosenstein since Friday when a New York Times report said that in 2017 Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording the president and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from office. The White House initially cited that memo as justification for Comey's firing, though Trump himself has said he was thinking about "this Russian Federation thing" when he made his move. At that moment, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was deeply suspicious of Rosenstein's role in the decision, and the Justice Department was anxious that it had lost credibility with Congress for giving Trump a memo that said the Federal Bureau of Investigation needed new leadership.

Mr Rosenstein denied the report as "inaccurate and factually incorrect". But let me be clear about this: "Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment".

The Justice Department also released a statement from a person who said Rosenstein's recording comment was meant sarcastically.

That second statement was issued after a tense meeting at the White House between Rosenstein and Kelly, according to people familiar with the encounter.

The Republicans say they want Rosenstein to testify under oath this week about what he said, and one suggested they might force a House vote on impeaching Rosenstein if he doesn't appear.

Rosenstein became deputy attorney general in April 2017 and assumed oversight of Mueller's investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions - who did not disclose to Congress that he had met during the 2016 campaign with Russia's ambassador to the United States - recused himself from the inquiry involving the election.

The move came one week after Rosenstein laid the groundwork for Comey's firing by writing a memo criticizing Comey's handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server.

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