Russia probe causes tension among top officials at Justice Department

Rosenstein was acting, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from acting in the Russia investigation after it was revealed he had held two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the November 8, 2016 election.

Officials familiar with the matter describe friction on the Justice Department's fourth and fifth floors, home to the suite of offices belonging to the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, respectively, in part because of Rosenstein's handling of the Russian Federation matter.

If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, Brand - who other than Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Session is the only other Senate-confirmed official in the entire agency at the moment - would take over his responsibilities. The Comey dismissal could become part of a widening investigation into whether the President tried to interfere with the ongoing Russian Federation probe. Mueller may want to learn about Trump's conversations with Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who wrote the memo criticizing Comey's performance before his firing on May 9. The attorney general was at a White House meeting when the notification came from Rosenstein, prompting the enraged President to scold the attorney general for the turn of events.

Rosenstein could be a witness in the investigation he is overseeing if Mueller has expanded his probe of Russian influence to investigate whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI director James Comey.

The President's tweet - seeming to confirm the probe based on news reports - came as a surprise to the President's own legal team, according to a person briefed on the matter.

It is possible, however, that the sources for the Post report could have been those interviewed as part of the investigation, not the investigators themselves.

While Mueller is now leading the investigation, Rosenstein still maintains the authority to make final decisions about adding resources and personnel to the probe - and most critically, over whether any prosecutions should be pursued.

Rosenstein was among those who advised Sessions to recuse himself, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Flynn, who was forced out in February, is a subject in investigations by intelligence committees in the House and Senate, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"I understand there are serious allegations that have been raised", he said. "I recognize the importance of these questions, and I think that Director Mueller ought to review that and make a determination of whether or not he believes it is within the scope of his investigation".

"I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!" Trump tweeted. "Witch Hunt".

The memo sent Thursday asks for records related to foreign travel, contacts with Russian "officials, agents or nationals" and background investigations into the top Trump associates now targeted by Mueller's probe.

On Thursday night, he issued a statement lashing out at news stories sourced to anonymous officials and that he believes are causing the President and Republicans to attack the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller for alleged leaks.

It was unclear what prompted the warning, but the Trump administration itself has continually hammered the media and political insiders over intelligence leaks.

Then, on Friday morning, Trump appeared to take a shot at Rosenstein in series of tweets.