Report: Justice Department's third in command steps down

Swearing in of Rachel Brand as Associate Attorney General on May 22, 2017. (Photo: Matthew T. Nichols for the Department of Justice)

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand stepped down from her position as the third in command at the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

The reason for her leaving the Department of Justice remains unclear, the Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier in the day, the New York Times reported that Brand was planning to step down.

Brand has served in the number three position at the Justice Department for only nine months. She was confirmed by the Senate in May 2017.

Citing sources familiar with Brand's decision, the Times says the associate attorney general's resignation coincides with President Donald Trump's repeated attacks on the U.S. Department of Justice.

The president has criticized the department for alleged political bias surrounding the special counsel investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and ties to the Russian government.

Brand's resignation is significant in that she would have been the next person in line to oversee Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is currently in charge of the probe.

Rumors emerged in recent weeks that Trump intends to fire Rosenstein. The White House said last week that there were no plans to change personnel at the Department of Justice at that time.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is waiting for the Department of Justice to respond to the report of Brand's resignation.

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