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Monday March 18th, 2019 10:15PM

The Latest: White House says Rosenstein departure his choice

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's expected departure from the Justice Department (all times local):

8:47 a.m.

The White House is casting the expected departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in coming weeks as Rosenstein's choice alone.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Rosenstein had always planned to stay around two years. Sanders told Fox News there was no "willingness" by Trump or the White House to force Rosenstein out.

She says he wants to help with the transition to a new attorney general.

William Barr, President's Donald Trump's nominee to be the permanent attorney general, is scheduled to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week for his confirmation hearings. Barr could be installed at the Justice Department as early as February.

Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian ties to Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump has denounced the investigation as a witch hunt.

__

7:21 a.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave his position soon after William Barr is confirmed as attorney general.

That's according to a person familiar with the plans who wasn't authorized to discuss them publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Barr has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be confirmed within weeks.

Rosenstein had been overseeing the day-to-day operations of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Once confirmed, Barr would assume oversight of the probe.

The person familiar with the plans said there was no specific date for Rosenstein's departure. It is common for attorneys general and other Cabinet secretaries to have their own deputies.

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