Donald Trump likely to fire top official

Donald Trump likely to fire top official

WASHINGTON - Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the probe into alleged collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump, was about to resign or be fired Monday, US media reported.

Several media including The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein was preparing to be dismissed, following the publication of reports that he had discussed ways to remove Trump over incompetence.

It was not immediately clear whether he would be sacked, or would resign first, the reports said.

The departure of Rosenstein -- possibly giving Trump an opportunity to get more of a loyalist as a replacement -- would dramatically rock the probe into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign in his shock presidential election victory in 2016.

Rosenstein plays a key role in overseeing the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which Trump calls a politically motivated "witch hunt."

In a highly unusual move for a US president, Trump has repeatedly attacked the Justice Department and the FBI, claiming that they are biased against him.

Just last Friday, Trump referred in a speech to supporters to a "lingering stench" at the Justice Department that he would soon eradicate.

The rancor between Trump and his own law enforcement officials took an extraordinary turn with reports that in May 2017 Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump for evidence of White House dysfunction -- and using that to remove him from power.

The New York Times and Washington Post reports were based on secret memos by a former FBI director -- which some speculated may have been leaked in order to undermine Rosenstein, and in turn the Russia special prosecutor Mueller.

Democrat opponents and also many from his own Republican Party have warned Trump not to take any action that could be seen as attempting to weaken or even dismantle the Russia probe. - APP/AFP