- Aaron Bernstein/Reuters
- Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand of the Justice Department has stepped down to take a job with Walmart.
- Brand was apparently fearful that she would have to oversee the Russia investigation if President Donald Trump decided to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, possibly attracting unwanted public attention to her.
- Brand was also frustrated with vacancies in the department.
- Trump had hinted to reporters that he might fire Rosenstein after reading the controversial memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes.
After months of dissatisfaction with her job, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the third-most important attorney at the Justice Department, stepped down from her position on Friday, reportedly pointing to a host of frustrations – and personal fears – about the future of the department under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Brand, who was one of the most powerful officials within the department behind Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was afraid that she would be forced to oversee the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia if Rosenstein was fired by Trump, NBC News reported, although her exit had been months in the making.
Rosenstein has been officially responsible for managing the Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller ever since Sessions recused himself from it in March 2017, citing his own involvement with the Trump campaign and communications with Russian officials.
Rosenstein was mentioned in the controversial memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes that was released earlier this month. The memo details alleged misconduct on the part of the Justice Department and FBI, and states that Rosenstein was among the individuals at the Justice Department who signed off on renewals of a surveillance warrant that Nunes claims was improperly obtained.
When asked if he would fire Rosenstein after reading the memo, Trump told a reporter, “You figure that one out.”
According to sources close to Brand, the associate attorney general was fearful that Rosenstein’s removal would put her at the helm of the investigation, meaning that she would likely garner a great deal of unwanted public attention.
In addition to her fears about potentially heading up the Russia probe, Brand was reportedly frustrated by the significant vacancies that remain unfilled in the department, and felt unsupported as a result.
Brand will be joining Walmart as the executive vice president, global governance and corporate secretary, according to a statement from the company.
Sessions wished her luck in her future endeavours on Friday
“I know the entire Department of Justice will miss her, but we join together in congratulating her on this new opportunity in the private sector,” Sessions said.