US Justice Department's top official stepping down

US Justice Department's top official stepping down

Updated | The third-ranking official in the Department of Justice-who would oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was sacked, resigns or recuses himself-is stepping down.

Were Rosenstein to get fired or to be forced into recusing himself - he also played a role in Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey - Brand would oversee a probe that has already led to conspiracy and money laundering charges against two top former Trump campaign officials.

"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. She is replacing Jeff Gearhart, who retired at the end of January.

Earlier reports said that the President might sack Rosenstein.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement, "Rachel Brand is an incredibly talented lawyer and Iowa native who has served our country very well in her role as Associate Attorney General".

In addition to her fears about potentially heading up the Russian Federation probe, Brand was reportedly frustrated by the significant vacancies that remain unfilled in the department, and felt unsupported as a result. As Associate Attorney General, Brand oversaw thousands of attorneys and professionals across the department's civil law divisions, including Antitrust, Tax and Environment and Natural Resources.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, where she served as deputy editor-in-chief of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Brand clerked on the Massachusetts Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court, where she clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. Benner explained that this would have been an uncomfortable position for Brand to be in, because if Trump were to ask her to fire Mueller, it would put her political career on shaky ground.

However, Brand had been unhappy for several months, frustrated that four of the 13 divisions she oversaw - all of which require Senate confirmation - are unfilled, NBC reports.

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