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Justice Department's third-in-command Rachel Brand is leaving: NY Times

Justice Department's third-in-command Rachel Brand is leaving: NY Times”

Trump has mused about firing Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russian Federation investigation into electoral interference since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. Trump also ousted all remaining USA attorneys, the chief federal prosecutors in each state, who had served under Trump's Democratic predecessor. The reason for her departure is unclear, and her exit caught senior Justice Department officials by surprise.

With Brand's departure, Solicitor General Noel Francisco - who grew up in Oswego and graduated from Oswego High School - is next in line at the Justice Department to oversee the Russian Federation investigation after Rosenstein.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, clerked at the Supreme Court, she worked at the White House, in academia, and has served in leadership positions spanning three administrations. Trump called the matter "a disgrace".

Brand will apparently become Walmart's head of global corporate governance, which includes legal and policy responsibilities.

Sources say Brand, who has only spent nine months on the job, is leaving to take a position in a Fortune 500 company. But the paper noted that if Trump fired Rosenstein, it would place Brand in Trump's crosshairs as she took on oversight of the investigation.

"Thank you for your strong leadership here at the department", Sessions said. "I've seen firsthand his commitment to the rule of law and to keeping the American people safe". If Rosenstein resigned, that authority would have fallen to Brand under the department's succession line. That job would now fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco. She was publicly active in her role as recently as last week, when she keynoted a summit on human trafficking in Washington, DC.

Any nominee to replace her on a permanent basis would require Senate confirmation. Had President Trump chose to fire Rosenstein, Brand would have taken over his post at the DOJ.

Most recently, in late January, Andrew McCabe - the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - announced that he will be stepping down from his post after months of intense criticism from Trump. As Associate Attorney General, Brand oversaw thousands of attorneys and professionals across the department's civil law divisions, among them antitrust, tax and environment and natural resources.



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