Rosenstein, a frequent Trump target, will leave Justice Dept

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller and remains his most visible Justice Department protector, is expected to leave his position soon after William Barr is confirmed as attorney general, a person familiar with the plans said Wednesday.

He also wanted to help ensure Barr, if confirmed by the Senate, had a smooth transition, ABC said, citing sources.

Rosenstein's job status has appeared tenuous at times, most notably in September, when he showed up at the White House expecting to be fired over news reports that he had discussed secretly recording the president. However, Rosenstein has continued to be the main Justice Department official to interact with Mueller and receive updates on the investigation. Matthew Whitaker now serves as the Acting Attorney General after Jeff Sessions left the post a year ago.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Barr would permit Mueller to complete the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. leader later explained that he retweeted the image because he believed Rosenstein "belongs behind bars" over his decision to pick Mueller to take over the Russian Federation probe, which Trump has repeatedly blasted as a "witch hunt", in May 2017, shortly after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey.

Outgoing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Graham announced last week that they will convene hearings on January 15 and 16 to consider the nomination of William Barr to serve as Attorney General.

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Some Democrats expressed concern with Rosenstein's departure.

"My guess is that he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team that he wants around him", she added.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters that Barr talked to him about his relationship with Mueller, including the fact that their wives are in a Bible study group together and Mueller has attended two of Barr's daughters' weddings. Russian Federation has also denied any interference in the election.

Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump's ire on Twitter - with the president recently re-posting an image of him and other officials behind bars. The appointment followed the recusal of Sessions because of his work on the Trump campaign and Trump's firing of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

President Donald Trump pushed out Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November and made Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker the acting attorney general before nominating Barr in December.

It is unclear how Barr's criticisms will come into play during his Senate confirmation hearing. That could leave the decision in the hands of Barr, who has expansive views of executive power and wrote an unsolicited memo to Rosenstein in June 2018 knocking Mueller for probing whether the president's firing of Comey was obstruction of justice.

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