Rachel Brand, the third-most senior official at the Department of Justice, is planning to step down from her position at the agency, after serving in her position for just nine months.
“The men and women of the Department of Justice impress me every day,” Brand said in a statement Friday evening. “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here. I want to thank Attorney General Sessions for his leadership over this Department. I’ve seen firsthand his commitment to the rule of law and to keeping the American people safe.”
A source familiar with the situation told the Washington Examiner that Brand is leaving the agency to become the head of global governance at Walmart, Inc.
The New York Times first reported the news Friday afternoon.
In the position at WalMart, Brand would become the top legal officer for the world's largest retailer. Jeffrey Gearheart retired on Jan. 21.
Brand serves directly under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe to determine if the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election. Rosenstein took over oversight of the federal Russia inquiry after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal.
It is unclear when Brand — who also reports to Sessions – intends to leave her position.
In the event Rosenstein were removed, Brand could have taken over overseeing the investigation. Trump has often condemned the investigation as a "witch hunt" and has weighed firing Rosenstein.
The announcement Friday arrives following last week's release of a controversial House Intelligence Committee memo that outlines alleged surveillance authority abuse by the Justice Department and FBI.
Sessions said Brand would be missed and acknowledged the leadership skills she brought to the agency.
“Rachel has shown real leadership over many important divisions at the Department,” Sessions said 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. She will always remain a part of the Department of Justice family.”
Additionally, just last week at an event to combat human trafficking at the department in Washington, Sessions praised both Brand and Rosenstein, noting that "they both represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the Department."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also praised Brand for her service.
“Rachel Brand is an incredibly talented lawyer and Iowa native who has served our country very well in her role as Associate Attorney General," Grassley said in a statement Friday. "As the Justice Department’s #3 official, Ms. Brand admirably led the litigating divisions on the civil side of the department. She oversaw the department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, to fight the opioid crisis, and to hold sanctuary cities accountable to the rule of law. I thank her for her service and wish Ms. Brand continued great success in her next career venture.”
Brand assumed her position as associate attorney general in May 2017 and is leaving for a general counsel job in the private sector. She has worked in the Justice Department in the past three presidential administrations. As deputy attorney general, she oversaw a large part of the Justice Department, including the civil division, the civil rights division and the antitrust division.
Brand's resignation follows that of David Laufman, a Justice Department official who assisted overseeing probes related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Jamil Jaffer, who worked with her at the Justice Department under the Bush Administration, told the Washington Examiner he is “certain that she’ll do great things going forward and will be in public service again in the near future.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated with statements from Rachel Brand and AG Jeff Sessions.