President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Now playing
01:24
Trump: My preference is to keep Rosenstein
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attends the investiture ceremony for U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden April 13, 2018 at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attends the investiture ceremony for U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden April 13, 2018 at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC.
Now playing
02:22
Trump allies want Rosenstein to testify
Now playing
02:47
Fate of Rosenstein, Russia investigation unclear
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30:  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attends the Religious Liberty Summit at the Department of Justice July 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Rosenstein has recently been cited by the House Freedom caucus as a potential impeachment target for allegedly not releasing documents requested by members of Congress.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 30: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attends the Religious Liberty Summit at the Department of Justice July 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Rosenstein has recently been cited by the House Freedom caucus as a potential impeachment target for allegedly not releasing documents requested by members of Congress. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:37
Source: Rosenstein expecting to be fired
Solicitor General nominee, Noel Francisco speaks during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Solicitor General nominee, Noel Francisco speaks during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:44
This is the man who would replace Rosenstein
Getty Images
Now playing
02:22
Trump: I won't comment until I get the facts
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 07:  (L-R) Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill  June 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence and security officials testified about re-authorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is the law the NSA uses to track emails and phone calls of non-US citizens.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 07: (L-R) Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence and security officials testified about re-authorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is the law the NSA uses to track emails and phone calls of non-US citizens. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:14
NYT: Rosenstein discussed 25th amendment
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07:  Deputy U.S. Attorney General nominee Rod Rosenstein is sworn in prior to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, Democratic senators pressed Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor in an ongoing federal inquiry into Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Deputy U.S. Attorney General nominee Rod Rosenstein is sworn in prior to testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee March 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, Democratic senators pressed Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor in an ongoing federal inquiry into Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:03
The man behind Comey's firing
Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would fortify the high court's conservative majority, and spotlight the rightward march of the federal judiciary under Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would fortify the high court's conservative majority, and spotlight the rightward march of the federal judiciary under Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Now playing
01:02
The man who oversees Mueller's investigation
Fox News
Now playing
02:00
Fox gives Trump conflicting advice
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before a congressional House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election," in Washington, DC, on June 28 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before a congressional House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election," in Washington, DC, on June 28 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:20
NYT: Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivers remarks on "Justice Department Views on Corporate Accountability" during the The Annual Conference for Compliance and Risk Professionals at the Mayflower Hotel May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivers remarks on "Justice Department Views on Corporate Accountability" during the The Annual Conference for Compliance and Risk Professionals at the Mayflower Hotel May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
05:41
Rosenstein: 12 Russians charged with hacking
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 17:  Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens during a news conference October 17, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Rosenstein held a news conference to announce that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota have indicted two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the U.S.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 17: Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens during a news conference October 17, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Rosenstein held a news conference to announce that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota have indicted two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the U.S. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:25
Who is Rod Rosenstein?
Rod Rosenstein
pool
Rod Rosenstein
Now playing
01:31
NYT: Rosenstein felt used in Comey firing
pool
Now playing
05:43
Rosenstein clashes with GOP lawmaker
Now playing
01:40
Watch lawmakers grill Rosenstein at hearing
(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump defused the tension building around a closely watched meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein slated for Thursday, suggesting that the No. 2 at the Justice Department may not lose his job after all.

“My preference would be to keep him,” Trump said at a news conference in New York Wednesday when asked if he planned to fire Rosenstein. “I would certainly prefer not doing it.”

He went on to indicate that he may postpone the meeting in order to avoid “competing” with his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s high-stakes hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday.

“I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way,” Trump said.

But a potential delay or wholesale cancellation of the Rosenstein meeting goes beyond competing with Kavanaugh. It could be seen as a sign that Trump has opted to follow the a chorus of advice – from his lawyers to Fox News’ Sean Hannity – not to oust Rosenstein, the man who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

’He was very nice’

Last week’s stunning reports of Rosenstein’s musings about wearing a wire to surreptitiously record the President and ousting him from office last year immediately raised questions about his job security, but the President appeared unperturbed Wednesday.

“We’ve had a good talk, he said he never said it, he said he had a lot of respect for me,” Trump said, adding that Rosenstein was “very nice” and a “member of the Trump administration.”

All week, senior White House officials had predicted Rosenstein would remain in his position until at least the midterm election in November, if not through the end of the year – a welcome relief for those who have the President’s ear and have reminded him of the political migraine that could result if he fired Rosenstein so close to the election.

So far, those close to Trump claim he’s been uncharacteristically calm about the situation. When he spoke to Rosenstein on Monday, Trump did not raise his voice – instead, he was measured and said he would rather talk in person Thursday, a senior official told CNN. Behind the scenes, some had even advised him not to do Thursday’s meeting at all.

Overall, the President has been far more preoccupied with the drama surrounding Kavanaugh than with Rosenstein this week.

Yet, at least on Monday, the President also had a back-up plan.

Trump spoke directly with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, about becoming the acting deputy attorney general in Rosenstein’s place on Monday morning, and Whitaker began telling people, understanding the job would be his, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The plan did not go expected, and Whitaker’s standing as Rosenstein’s successor is an open question at this point, but it illustrates the fragile footing Justice officials find themselves in at the moment.

No impeachment

On Capitol Hill, some of Rosenstein’s Republican critics have demanded he appear before Congress to explain his comments about wiretapping and the 25th Amendment, but House Speaker Paul Ryan tamped down the calls from the House Freedom Caucus, saying that it was a matter the President and the deputy attorney general had to work out amongst themselves.

“I think we shouldn’t step in the way of that. We should let the President work it out with Rod Rosenstein,” Ryan said at a news conference. “I hope they have a good productive conversation and I think that’s helpful.”

Leaders of the House Freedom Caucus, including Republican Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio, have called for a subpoena to force Rosenstein’s testimony and met with Ryan behind closed doors Wednesday.

Thus far, House Judiciary Commitee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, has only prepared a subpoena Tuesday evening for the memos authored by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe where the allegations are documented, without readying a subpoena for Rosenstein’s testimony.

That didn’t satisfy some of Trump’s vocal allies in Congress, but their time for another play has dimmed, with Congress leaving town at the end of the week.

“I do not believe that the second in command at DOJ can make the kinds of alleged comments that he made and not come before this committee and this Congress to tell us and the American people to tell us what he said and didn’t say,” Meadows said, declining to discuss whether he would move forward with articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.