WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, agreed to delay a planned meeting until next week so as not to interfere with a Senate hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the White House said on Thursday.
Trump had expected to meet with Rosenstein to discuss a news report that he had suggested secretly recording the president and recruiting Cabinet members to remove him from office. The two men talked and agreed to postponed their meeting, the White House said.
There was widespread speculation earlier this week that Trump might fire Rosenstein following the New York Times story, but the president told a news conference on Wednesday that he would prefer to keep the deputy attorney general in his job.
Rosenstein has denied the story as “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” The article said that while Rosenstein had made the suggestions over concern about chaos in the administration, none of them actually came to fruition.
Trump and Rosenstein talked on Monday and had planned to meet on Thursday to discuss the issue further but that clashed with the hearing for Kavanaugh, who has been accused by a university professor of sexual assaulting her when they were teenagers.
“The president spoke with Rod Rosenstein a few minutes ago and they plan to meet next week. They do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
Trump told a news conference on Wednesday evening he “had a good talk” with Rosenstein earlier in the week.
“He said he never said it. He said he doesn’t believe. He said he has a lot of respect for me. And he was very nice. And we’ll see,” the president said when asked if he would fire the deputy attorney general.
Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Russia denies interfering and Trump says there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Alistair Bell