DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Resign, Successor Tasked With Clarifying Wire Act

Rod Rosenstein, the Department of Justice (DOJ) deputy attorney general who agreed to review the 2011 Wire Act opinion, is set to resign next month following allegations that he offered to secretly record conversations with President Donald Trump.

The Wire Act could be interpreted for a third time in eight years, as DOJ Deputy General Rod Rosenstein will likely soon depart the agency. (Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The Associated Press spoke with department officials who confirmed Rosenstein will depart in March. The White House is expected to name his successor as early as this week.

The DOJ deputy attorney general oversees the department's day-to-day operations, and is the second most powerful individual in the law enforcement agency.

Soon after being appointed to the position in 2017, Rosenstein was petitioned by US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to review the DOJ's 2011 opinion on the Wire Act.

The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opined eight years ago that the 1961 federal law banned the transmission of interstate wagers relating to sports betting, but not all forms of gambling. The decree essentially gave states the power to legalize internet casinos.

Rosenstein, who was appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, agreed to direct the OLC to review the opinion. Counsel Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel concluded that the 2011 opinion was erroneous, and that the Wire Act's scope extends to all forms of interstate gambling.

Trump Weighs In

The New York Times published a story last fall suggesting that Rosenstein offered to – somewhat ironically – wear a wire to secretly record his communications with Trump. The deputy attorney general denied the allegations.

This month, former Acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told 60 Minutes that following the May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, “The highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.” Rosenstein denied he was involved in any scheme to obtain evidence that could lead to Trump's impeachment.

Wow, so many lies by now disgraced Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged,” Trump tweeted yesterday. “He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.”

“There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like,” the president stated.

Rosenstein Successor

The 2019 Wire Act reversal of opinion threatens online gambling in states where it's legal, as well as interstate lottery games such as Powerball and Mega Millions. Numerous state attorneys general have petitioned Rosenstein to reconsider or rescind the most recent interpretation.

New Jersey, one of the four states where online gambling laws have been passed, is threatening to file a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgement in federal court unless the DOJ invalidates the new opinion.

Attorney General William Barr, who only took office February 14, is tasked with finding Rosenstein's replacement.

If Barr wants to remain in the president's good graces, he might be smart to select someone who will uphold the 2019 Wire Act opinion. One of Trump's largest financial backers is billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands owner who has pledged to spend whatever it takes to outlaw internet casinos.

Barr is considering Transportation Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen for the position.

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