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Rachel Brand, No. 3 US Justice Department official, stepping down amid turmoil

10 February 2018

Brand could have found herself on the hot seat if Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Trump has reportedly considered firing both Mueller and Rosenstein at times. Spokespeople for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to TPM's inquiry about the report.

Brand's departure was first reported Friday by the New York Times. She's the person most likely to take over should Donald Trump fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but she'd given no indication that she'd be any more willing to do Trump's bidding and fire Robert Mueller should Trump fire Rosenstein.

She has held politically-appointed positions at the justice department over the past three presidential administrations.

On 2 February, just hours before Trump approved the release of the Republican memo, Sessions offered praise for Rosenstein, the department's No 2 official, and Brand, saying they "represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department".

Brand attracted interest because of her potential to assume a key role in the Trump-Russia investigation.

Trump admitted to the New York Times past year that he would not have picked Sessions as his attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself.

A political appointee, Brand had left private practice to join the Trump administration, but had worked in political positions under prior administrations.

Last week, with Trump serving up new rebukes of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to the release of a classified Republican memo alleging abuses of government surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide, Sessions singled out Brand at a Justice conference.

Rachel Brand, No. 3 US Justice Department official, stepping down amid turmoil