From Slate:

Last week, lawyer Paul Rosenzweig wrote a piece for the Atlantic titled “Firing Rosenstein Won’t Save Trump.” Trump hasn’t yet fired Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is also functioning as acting attorney general for the Russia investigation (after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused), but last weekend was full of reports about the president’s rage at Rosenstein and others in the Department of Justice, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time. However, as the New York Times reported on Friday, Trump’s allies believe the biggest threat to his presidency may arise from matters seemingly unconnected to Russia: specifically, the DOJ examination (via the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York) of his lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, whose office and residence were raided last week and who is expected to appear in court Monday.

I recently spoke by phone with Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel in the Starr investigation of President Clinton and a senior fellow at center-right think tank the R Street Institute, to try and decipher what moves Trump might contemplate as his legal situations worsens.

Isaac Chotiner: Your piece essentially said that firing Rosenstein would not solve Trump’s Russia-related problems because a new deputy attorney general would not oversee the Russia probe. As you write, “even if Trump were to appoint a loyalist to replace Rosenstein as acting deputy attorney general, until that person were confirmed by the Senate, he or she would not actually be the deputy. As a result, he or she could not be the acting attorney general for purposes of supervising the Mueller investigation.” Instead, it would be the next-in-line person for the role of acting attorney general, Noel Francisco. But now that Trump and his allies are saying that potentially his biggest legal issue is the Southern District of New York raid on Michael Cohen’s office, and given that Rosenstein in his deputy role oversaw those raids, are you worried about Rosenstein being fired?

Paul Rosenzweig: You are correct to say that the deputy’s oversight of criminal investigations generally is stronger and that any acting deputy attorney general [Trump installed] would have some role. On the other hand, U.S. attorney’s offices traditionally have a fair amount of independence. The U.S. attorney himself is also a Senate-confirmed individual, and the Southern District of New York is unique in the degree to which it both asserts and exercises that independence. Its nickname is the “sovereign district” of New York because it is well-known for ignoring the Department of Justice whenever it wants to.

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