US Justice Deparment's No. 3 official resigns

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The third-ranking official in the Department of Justice-who would oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was sacked, resigns or recuses himself-is reportedly stepping down.

"To keep us safe, our intelligence agencies must be able to "connect the dots" between the various pieces of information the government already lawfully possesses", Brand wrote. And she had been vocal about the department's efforts to support students who say their free speech rights are being violated on college campuses.

From 2012 to 2017, Brand filled a Republican seat on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a panel that advises the president and other top officials about counterterrorism policy.

In 2012, president Barack Obama - a Democrat - appointed her to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which reviewed the legality of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, especially its data collection on USA citizens, which Brand defended. But if he was let go, that would have left Brand next in line to oversee Mueller's investigation, among Rosenstein's other responsibilities. That job would now fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco, in such a scenario.

Trump's broadsides have strained morale at the institution, which has always been praised for its independence from the White House.

Trump, who has openly lamented his inability to influence Justice Department decisions, has stepped up his criticism in recent weeks, fueled by the release of a politically charged memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance powers in the Russian Federation investigation.

She rejoined the Justice Department in May, appointed by Trump and working directly below Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from involvement with the Mueller probe due to his own work for the Trump campaign.

Brand, who became associate attorney general in May, has kept a relatively low profile. I want to thank Attorney General Sessions for his leadership over this Department.

Brand, 44, who has only been in her Senate-confirmed position for nine months, would have been in line to take over the supervision of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III's Russian Federation investigation if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the department's No. 2 official, was sacked by Trump or recused himself from the matter.

In her current capacity, she oversaw a number of politically challenging areas of the department, including the civil rights, antitrust and civil divisions.

If Rosenstein were forced out, that would have put Brand uncomfortably in the White House's sights, at least until a new deputy attorney general could be nominated and approved by Congress. She also introduced Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in turn praised Brand for her "strong leadership as our third in command at the department".

A source familiar with Brand's plans said she is going to accept a job with Walmart.

"It really seems to have her name on it", Gorelick said.