Rod Rosenstein could be leaving his post as Deputy Attorney General sometime this week, by being fired or resigning. In the case he does, he would be replaced by the Solicitor General, Noel Francisco. Fox News reports:
Were Rod Rosenstein to resign as deputy attorney general, the Department of Justice’s rules of succession dictate that Solicitor General Noel Francisco would assume his post, pending President Donald Trump appointing someone outside the rules of succession.
Francisco is currently the third-highest ranking official in the Department of Justice and would take over supervision of the Robert Mueller-run special counsel investigation, which has been ongoing since May 2017. Francisco would hypothetically have the authority to fire Mueller and end the investigation, were he to assume the new position.
Francisco has rock-ribbed conservative credentials. He is a veteran clerk of late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and worked for the George W. Bush legal team during the Florida recount and the Bush White House as associate counsel to President Bush. Francisco worked for the Department of Justice in the Bush administration before moving back to private practice, where he argued multiple cases before the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, Francisco is no fan of special counsels and is a firm advocate for the president’s constitutional power to shape the bureaucracy around him. He rebuked the vast investigative authority of “career prosecutors” looking into presidential administrations and has argued before the Supreme Court that the president has the authority to directly hire-and-fire every federal official who are behaving in a “subordinate” manner.
While Rosenstein’s departure would cause some waves inside the administration, Francisco would be more than capable to shoulder the job, including supervising Robert Mueller’s probe.