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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Last week, Rod Rosenstein was the toast of the White House. Tonight, he went against President Trump's wishes and took the Russia probe to a new level.

  • The initial party line on James Comey's firing: Trump had accepted the recommendation of his deputy attorney general, a "universally respected" and apolitical figure. Rosenstein, a longtime Department of Justice official, was reportedly infuriated that Trump's decision had been pinned on him.
  • Eight days after Comey's ouster: Rosenstein took the dramatic step of naming former FBI director Robert Mueller special counsel in the Russia probe, tasked with investigating ties between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin.
  • Trump was reportedly not informed until after Rosenstein signed the order, less than an hour before the public announcement. Some media organizations received the news around the same time.

Why it matters: The White House can hardly attack Rosenstein's decision. After all, they spent 24+ hours arguing that his judgment was above reproach.

A key point: Mueller's investigation falls under the DOJ umbrella, but because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself, he will be reporting to Rosenstein. Mueller is nobody's lackey, and Rosenstein emphatically proved his independence from the White House tonight. Trump may therefore be helpless to steer the investigation.

Rosenstein's redemption: Whether it was his intention or not, Rosenstein has exacted revenge over how the Comey firing played out.

Next up: The Senate will receive a classified briefing from Rosenstein on Thursday afternoon, with the House getting its own briefing on Friday morning, reports CNN's Deirdre Walsh.

Go deeper

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.