Turns out Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn't leaving the Justice Department (and oversight of the Mueller probe) this month after all.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to stay on at the Justice Department "a little longer" than originally anticipated, according to a Justice official familiar with his thinking.
Initially, he planned to leave in mid-March, but no firm date was ever set and after consulting with Attorney General William Barr, he will now stay in his position a bit longer.
He has not given the White House his two weeks' notice.
Rosenstein has been overseeing the Russia investigation and as CNN has reported, he has signaled to other officials that he would leave when he was satisfied that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was either complete or close enough to completion that it was protected.
This jibes with last week's often overlooked news that while the Manafort part of the Mueller probe is winding down with Manafort's sentencing, the probe itself continues as Manafort's business partner Rick Gates continue to provide information.
Rick Gates, the longtime right-hand-man to Paul Manafort who had high-level roles on the Trump campaign and inauguration, is not yet ready for sentencing, Mueller’s team said Friday— because Gates “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.”
Gates struck a plea deal with Mueller’s team in February 2018 and testified against Manafort at his trial in August 2018.
What’s left tantalizingly unclear, as ever, is what’s going on with Mueller’s own investigation. For weeks, it’s been rumored in Washington that the special counsel is close to wrapping up — but no Mueller report has yet materialized.
However, Gates’s continued cooperation doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about the state of the special counsel probe because he isn’t only cooperating with Mueller.
There are at least two known investigations, beyond Mueller’s own, that Gates is believed to be cooperating with: an investigation into the Trump inauguration’s money and an investigation into lobbyists’ and lawyers’ unregistered work for Ukraine.
Since both of those investigations appear to remain active, it makes perfect sense that Gates isn’t yet ready for sentencing. Gates could also be providing assistance to other investigations we don’t know about.
Rosenstein leaving was probably the biggest single sign the Meuller probe was winding down. Now he's staying on.
We have a lot more ground to cover, it seems.