NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.
Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
Bloomberg has reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.
Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.
Other reports, however, suggested that Rosenstein was being sarcastic when he made those comments.
In an interview with radio host Geraldo Rivera over the weekend, Trump hinted that he was considering firing Rosenstein.
“Certainly it’s being looked at in terms of what took place, if anything took place. I’ll make a determination sometime later but I don’t have the facts,” Trump said when asked if he would cut Rosenstein loose over the reports.
Widget not in any sidebars
Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.
Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.
He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.
Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.
As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.
Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.