After just nine months as the third-ranking official at the Justice Department, Rachel Brand resigned Friday to take a job at Walmart, the New York Times reports. According to CBS News, the department says the associate attorney general will be leaving "in the coming weeks." It's unclear why Brand is stepping down, though the Wall Street Journal notes the Justice Department had found itself recently under attack by President Trump and members of Congress. Brand was also the next in line to oversee Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and potential Trump collusion behind Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who Trump has thought about firing. Brand's assistant has also left the Justice Department.
It's unusual to leave less than a year into a senior department role, and Justice Department officials are said to have been surprised by Brand's resignation. It's unclear who will replace her. "She has played a critical role in helping us accomplish our goals as a department—taking on human trafficking, protecting free speech on campus, and fighting sexual harassment in public housing," Attorney General Jeff Sessions says in a statement. "I know the entire Department of Justice will miss her, but we join together in congratulating her on this new opportunity in the private sector." Brand will become global governance director at Walmart; it's the company's top legal position. She had been appointed to serve in the past three presidential administrations. (Read more Department of Justice stories.)