Jesse Panuccio, a former high-ranking aide to Rick Scott, has been getting national attention this week amid chatter about President Donald Trump possibly trying to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
If Trump wants to remove Mueller from the Russia-related investigation, he would first have to replace Mueller’s boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation. That has put Panuccio, the acting associate attorney general, in the crosshairs of media speculation if Rosenstein exits.
Panuccio is third in line at the Justice Department, though he is only acting associate attorney general because Trump has not officially appointed a replacement for former Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who stepped down from the post. An appointment also would be subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.
Panuccio served stints as Scott’s general counsel and executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which he left at the end of 2015 as he was expected to face intense scrutiny during Florida Senate confirmation hearings.
Panuccio was among 16 agency heads who failed to be confirmed by the Senate during the 2015 legislative session. Months later, he continued to face questions about problems with a state unemployment-benefits website and had lawmakers openly admonish him for displaying a “sense of entitlement” and for communications issues.
Upon his resignation, Scott called Panuccio “a loyal and trusted adviser.”
Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.