Trump legal confidant Joe diGenova urges president to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

"I would fire Rosenstein in a New York minute; without any question."

April 12, 2018, 11:52 AM

President Donald Trump should fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to a long-time Washington attorney and political commentator who has emerged as a new legal confidant to the president.

"I would fire Rosenstein in a New York minute; without any question," Joe diGenova told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on this week’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.

DiGenova, who says he has spoken to the president in the past 24 hours, is one of a number of trusted voices in the president's orbit urging him to remove Rosenstein in wake of his decision to authorize a raid on the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Joesph diGenova, Washington lawyer and legal confidante to President Donald Trump, speaks to ABC's Powerhouse Politics podcast.
ABC News

The president is taking the advice seriously and is openly considering the move, sources told ABC News.

Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone is also calling on the president to fire Rosenstein, he told ABC News Wednesday, as former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon also did in an interview with The Washington Post Wednesday.

Rosenstein oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and removing him from office could signal a move to derail the investigation altogether, which many Republicans and Democrats in Washington believe.

"Rosenstein authorized what I consider to be an unconstitutional search of Mr. Cohen's office in New York," diGenova told ABC, calling the deputy attorney general, whom Trump nominated for the job, "disloyal" to the president.

"It was an outrageous breach of protocol and Justice Department ethics and rules and regulations. Yes, I would fire Rod Rosenstein, without a doubt."

Acting on a criminal referral from Mueller earlier this week, Rosenstein's office green-lit a criminal case against Cohen that prompted a high-stakes FBI raid at Cohen's home and office in New York City. Officials seized a wide array of documents, including Cohen's dealings with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and his personal communications with Trump.

The raid incensed the president, who declared the investigation a "disgrace" and a "total witch hunt.”

The president was so aggravated by the news that he has become “less inclined” to sit down for an interview with Mueller, sources close to Trump and his legal team told ABC News, something he had said he would "100 percent" do.

It would be a bad idea for Trump to sit down for an interview with Mueller, diGenova said, describing it as a "perjury trap."

"I have not discussed that with the president but I would certainly recommend that he not do that," diGenova said of any interview with Mueller. "It would serve no purpose at this point.

"You do not allow your client to be interviewed by a prosecutor who is acting in bad faith,” diGenova added. "Mr. Mueller is acting in bad faith. This is a perjury trap."

The president should also fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, diGenova said, calling him a "classic career climber" and a "little child" who avoids conflict.

DiGenova accused Wray of disappearing after reports surfaced that the FBI missed tips that could have prevented the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

The president's next move is anyone's best guess. He has said publicly on more than one occasion that he'd sit down with Mueller, but earlier this week mused aloud about firing him instead.

"Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," Trump said, speaking in the Cabinet room Monday after the Cohen raid was first reported. "And many people have said, you should fire him."

But nearly all the president's confidants and his allies in Congress have warned against such a move for fear that it could create a constitutional crisis and calls for impeachment.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is hoping to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that would protect the special counsel from being fired by the president.

DiGenova also said Trump will be adding a new high-profile attorney to replace Trump’s lead personal attorney handling the Russia probe, John Dowd, who resigned two weeks ago.

DiGenova was briefly considered for that role but, ultimately, could not take the job because of conflicts of interest, he said.

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