U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Federalist Society member and onetime clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is the person to keep an eye on at the Justice Department once Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is fired by President Donald Trump.
As Rosenstein was headed to the White House for his expected termination from employment as No. 2 at the Justice Department, administration sources told Newsmax that Francisco was sure to move up and replace him.
Technically, the No. 3 official in the Justice Department hierarchy, Francisco is a hero to those on the right who know him from his years in the conservative Federalist Society. He was also on the legal team for then-candidate George W. Bush in the Bush v. Gore cases following the disputed 2000 election, and he later served in the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice when Bush became president.
Most recently, he was attorney for Virginia's former Gov. Bob McDonnell in the successful case culminating in the Supreme Court's ruling in 2014 to overturn McDonnell's conviction on corruption charges.
Francisco, well known for his criticism of the law which makes possible special counsels for major investigations, will now pick up where Rosenstein left off in dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Most administration sources who spoke to Newsmax agree Mueller will bring his investigation to a close sooner rather than later.
President Trump has long made little secret of his disappointment in Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation and thereby letting his understudy Rosenstein opt for a special counsel and then name Mueller to the post.
Rosenstein's firing has been expected since late last week. following a report in The New York Times he once discussed wiretapping the president and possibly invoking the 25th Amendment on the grounds he was unfit for office.
As Rosenstein leaves, there is growing speculation Sessions will depart soon — possibly after the November midterm elections. If so, Francisco looms large as his successor, assuming Republicans keep the Senate and can guarantee his confirmation.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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