Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

No. 3 Official at Department of Justice Is Stepping Down

No. 3 Official at Department of Justice Is Stepping Down

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand - the third-ranking official at the Justice Department - is leaving the department after less than a year on the job, according to a senior Justice Department official.

Brand was confirmed just last May after being nominated for the position by President Donald Trump.

Other sources said Brand has chafed for months at the limits of her post at DOJ.

A 2016 Justice Department memo outlines the order of succession in overseeing the investigation if Rosenstein is recused or removed before Brand is replaced, according to Buzzfeed.

Brand, who has served in the Justice department under three administrations, would be in charge of the Russian Federation probe - and have authority to fire Mueller - if Trump were to get rid of Rosenstein.

The New York Times first reported her decision. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.

Ms. Brand's assistant, Currie Gunn, has also left the department.

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"Thank you, Rachel, for your kind words and, more importantly, for your strong leadership as our third in command at the department", Sessions said.

The daughter and granddaughter of Dutch dairy farmers in Iowa, Brand has been praised for her deep knowledge of the Justice Department.

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

'She felt this was an opportunity she couldn't turn down, ' Gorelick told the Associated Press. She had been appointed to serve in the past three presidential administrations.

Mr. Trump in recent weeks has escalated his criticism of the department for its handling of the inquiry and suggested that top law enforcement officials should face consequences for conduct he called "a disgrace".

In her current capacity, she oversaw a number of politically challenging areas of the department, including the civil rights, antitrust and civil divisions. When controversy over Sessions and Rosenstein's future brewed last summer, some speculated she might, at least temporarily, take the reins at the Justice Department.

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