WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump has postponed a highly anticipated meeting to discuss the tenure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The president, who is reportedly considering firing the man who oversees the special investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, will meet with him next week.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement the two men spoke Thursday and agreed to delay so as not to distract from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, in which testimony was heard Thursday from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual misconduct.
The president has complained about the Justice Department's handling of the Russia probe for months, but tensions between Trump and Rosenstein appeared to increase last week, when The New York Times reported Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording Trump to obtain evidence intended to demonstrate the president is unfit to govern. Rosenstein has issued two statements flatly denying the allegations.
Earlier Thursday, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox & Friends that Trump and Rosenstein are "both committed to speaking with each other and resolving this once and for all."
Republicans calling for testimony
The president's Republican allies are calling for Rosenstein to testify before Congress about his alleged suggestion to secretly record Trump and about Rosenstein's comments on the 25th Amendment, a constitutional provision that lays out a process for removing a sitting president from office.
Congressman Mark Meadows, chair of the Freedom Caucus, said via Twitter that the failure to question the deputy attorney general over the issue would amount to a "dereliction of duty."
There is zero excuse for Congress not to call Rod Rosenstein to testify under oath on his alleged comments about "wiring the President." Failure to even question the no. 2 DOJ official after he reportedly said these things would amount to a dereliction of duty.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) September 26, 2018
House Republicans on Wednesday began the process to subpoena Justice Department memos that allegedly contain information about Rosenstein's comments.
The Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus has issued a formal call demanding Rosenstein to testify.
Rosenstein and the Mueller probe
Rosenstein oversees the independent investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Although several high-ranking officials of Trump's campaign have pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with Mueller's investigation, the president maintains the entire investigation is a "witch hunt" without merit.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress are worried the president will fire Rosenstein in a bid to shut down the special counsel's investigation. Earlier this week, Democratic lawmakers renewed their calls for Republicans to pass legislation to protect Mueller's probe.
The bill, introduced by two Republican and two Democrat senators, has passed out of committee with Republican support, but it's stalled on its way to the floor.
Trump told reporters Wednesday in New York that he prefers to leave Rosenstein in his post "and let him finish up."