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President Donald Trump on Monday said he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, despite feverish speculation two weeks ago that Rosenstein was on his way out.
"I get along very well with him," Trump said of Rosenstein. "I didn't know Rod before [becoming president], but I got to know him," the president told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. Trump added that he and Rosenstein "actually have a very good relationship."
Trump's comments came exactly two weeks after official Washington was rocked by a series of reports that Rosenstein had been fired, that he had quit, or that his firing was imminent.
But none of this came to pass, and instead the White House announced that Trump would meet with Rosenstein on Sept. 27 to discuss his future at the Justice Department.
That meeting was postponed, however, so as not to conflict with a Senate hearing into allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The significance of Rosenstein's departure would have been massive, however, given that he oversees the special counsel's Russia probe.
Rosenstein assumed oversight of the Justice Department's investigation into Russian election interference after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from it in 2017.
Asked Monday about the postponed meeting with Rosenstein, Trump said he would talk to the deputy attorney general aboard Air Force One en route to Florida. Rosenstein was expected to attend a speech Trump was giving to law enforcement officers later in the day.
"We'll be talking on the plane," Trump said. "I actually have a good relationship [with Rosenstein] other than there's been no collusion, folks, no collusion. But I have a very good relationship, we'll see."
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump's 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia, which the president has consistently denied, and Russian meddling in the election.
Ever since the special counsel's Russia probe was launched in May 2017, it has driven a wedge between Trump and his Justice Department.
The original speculation about Rosenstein's departure was prompted by a Sept. 21 report in The New York Times that Rosenstein had suggested he would wear a wire to secretly record the president during their conversations.
Immediately after the Times story was published, several Justice Department officials said Rosenstein had been joking about the wire.