WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department’s third-ranking official, Rachel Brand, plans to step down after just nine months on the job, the New York Times reported on Friday, at a time when President Donald Trump has taken aim at senior law enforcement officials.
Brand was next in line of succession to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the ongoing probe.
Rosenstein oversees Mueller’s investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter last year.
Brand’s resignation is the latest sign of turmoil at U.S. law enforcement agencies, which have come under sustained attack by Trump and his Republican allies in recent months. The Times reported that Brand will resign, citing two people briefed on her decision.
News of her departure comes a week after Trump approved the release of a previously classified memo written by Republican lawmakers that portrayed the Russia investigation, initially handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and now headed by Mueller, as a product of political bias against Trump at the Justice Department and FBI.
Trump also has criticized Sessions for recusing himself.
On Feb. 2, 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.”
Neither Brand nor a Justice Department spokesman could be immediately reached for comment.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Eric Beech; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Eric Walsh and Daniel Wallis)