WASHINGTON — The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will resign at the end of the week, according to law enforcement officials, who said he had become convinced that President Trump had little respect for the law.
The official, Chuck Rosenberg, who twice served as chief of staff to former FBI Director James B. Comey and remains a close confidant, had grown disillusioned with Trump. The president fired Comey in May, and then in July told law enforcement officers “please don’t be too nice” when handling crime suspects.
Rosenberg forcefully rejected Trump’s comment, sending an e-mail to all DEA employees to tell them that they should not mistreat suspects.
“We must earn and keep the public trust and continue to hold ourselves to the very highest standards,” Rosenberg wrote in the internal e-mail. “Ours is an honorable profession and, so, we will always act honorably.”
Trump has injected the White House into law enforcement matters in ways that have made many career officials uncomfortable. The president spoke disparagingly about ongoing criminal investigations into his own associates, encouraged the Justice Department to investigate political rivals including Hillary Clinton and said he would never have nominated Jeff Sessions to be attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from an investigation into his associates.
Rosenberg, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2015, is a career prosecutor. Under President George W. Bush, he served as the US attorney in both southern Texas and eastern Virginia.
In late July, Rosenberg told the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, that he did not want to be considered as the permanent administrator of the DEA. Rosenstein, who wrote a memo that Trump briefly cited as his rationale for dismissing Comey, then asked whether Rosenberg wanted any other job in the Justice Department, and Rosenberg said he did not.
In a message to DEA employees Tuesday, Rosenberg said, “The neighborhoods in which we live are better for your commitment to the rule of law, dedication to the cause of justice and perseverance in the face of adversity.”
“You will continue to do great things,” he added. “I will continue to root for you, now from the sidelines.”