All signs on Monday pointed to a mending in the fraught relationship between President Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
After telling reporters earlier in the day that he had no plans to fire the Justice Department’s second-ranking official, Trump met with Rosenstein aboard Air Force One and then described the discussion as “great.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that the pair met for roughly 45 minutes during the flight from Washington to Orlando.
Rosenstein emerged with a smile on his face from Air Force One on Monday afternoon, walking down the airplane’s stairs with White House chief of staff John Kelly. Trailing behind was Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, who was followed by the president.
According to Gidley, in a statement, the two “discussed various topics including the International Chiefs of Police event later today, support for our great law enforcement officials, border security, how to better address violent crime in Chicago, and general DOJ business.”
Kelly and O’Callaghan were also part of the meeting between Rosenstein and Trump.
Rosenstein’s future was in doubt after a New York Times report last month said that he had discussed secretly recording Trump and possibly invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power.
Rosenstein denied the report, but discussed resignation with Kelly the weekend after it was published.
Rosentein and Trump were then due to meet 11 days ago but the White House postponed the meeting to focus on the handling of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s pick to the Supreme Court.
It was delayed again last week and rescheduled for today. As he was leaving the White House before noon Monday en route to board Air Force One to fly to Orlando, reporters asked Trump if he had plans to fire Rosenstein. "No, I don't," he replied.
With Attoney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation, Rosenstein is in a pivotal position providing oversight to Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion during the 2016 presidential election.
Should Rosenstein quit or be fired from the Justice Department, there would be a storm of controversy, an upheaval the White House and Republicans want to avoid in the final month before November’s midterm elections.