Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his letter of resignation to President Donald Trump on Monday, thanking the chief executive for the opportunity to serve.
His resignation takes effect on May 11.
NBC News reported in March that Rosenstein previously said he anticipated leaving the Justice Department in the middle of that month, but agreed to stay “a little longer,” taking him through the release of the long-anticipated report by special counsel Robert Mueller.
In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein said, “I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations; and for the goals you set in your inaugural address: patriotism, unity, safety, education and prosperity.”
The deputy attorney general made no mention of Mueller, who Rosenstein appointed to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Rosenstein emphasized that the job of the DOJ is to avoid partisanship.
“Political considerations may influence policy choices, but neutral principals must drive decisions about individual cases,” he wrote.
“We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan, and truth is not determined by opinion polls. We ignore fleeting distractions and focus our attention on the things that matter, because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle.”
“We keep the faith, we follow the rules and we always put America first,” Rosenstein concluded.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Rosenstein quoted one of his heroes, former attorney general and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who said in 1940, that government lawyers “must at times risk ourselves and our records to defend our legal processes from discredit, and to maintain a dispassionate, disinterested, and impartial enforcement of the law.”
Jackson is perhaps best known for his role as lead prosecutor during the Nuremberg Nazi war criminal trials following World War II.
Rosenstein defended his handling of the Mueller investigation last week while speaking at a dinner in New York sponsored by the Armenian Bar Association, CNN reported.
He acknowledged “not everybody was happy with my decision (to appoint Mueller), in case you didn’t notice,” perhaps in a nod that Trump was among those ranks.
“You just need to accept that politicians need to evaluate everything in terms of the immediate political impact,” he added.
When asked about his lack of facial expression while he stood beside Attorney General William Barr delivering the findings of the Mueller report, Rosenstein said, “The answer is, I was thinking, ‘My job is to stand here with a deadpan expression,'” Rosenstein joked, adding, “Can you imagine if I did anything other than a deadpan reaction?”
Barr praised his deputy in a statement released on Monday, according to Fox News.
“His devotion to the Department and its professionals is unparalleled,” the statement read. “Over the course of his distinguished government career, he has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace, and good humor.”
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