A bombshell report published Friday afternoon claims Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year suggested secretly recording President Trump to expose chaos in the White House and enlisting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Rosenstein adamantly denied the accusations.
The explosive article published by The New York Times said Rosenstein discussed recording Trump and his removal from office in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials.
This would have been in the tumultuous days after James Comey was fired as FBI director, with the president citing in part a memo penned by Rosenstein.
According to The Times, none of Rosenstein’s proposals were acted upon and it remains unclear the level of seriousness Rosenstein had when making the suggestions. One source for The Times reportedly said Rosenstein was being sarcastic about wearing a “wire,” while others said he was serious.
Rosenstein reportedly told former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly—now White House chief of staff—to begin proceedings to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Rosenstein even reportedly suggested that those interviewing with the president to replace Comey as director of the FBI wear wires to secretly tape him.
Rosenstein denied the allegations, blasting The Times’ story as “factually incorrect.”
“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” Rosenstein said in a statement to Fox News. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Details, according to The Times, were confirmed by sources who were briefed on the discussions or memos written about the discussions, by McCabe and others.
McCabe’s attorney issued a statement apparently acknowledging that such memos exist.
“Andrew McCabe drafted memos to memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions,” McCabe’s attorney Michael Bromwich said in a statement. “When he was interviewed by the Special Counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos — classified and unclassified — to the Special Counsel’s office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the report, but Trump’s eldest son tweeted that “no one is shocked.”
“Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realDonaldTrump,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Friday, with a link-out to The Times report.
Rosenstein took over as the head Justice Department official to oversee the Russia investigation, upon Sessions’ recusal in 2017 due to his involvement with the Trump campaign—a decision causing immense friction between the attorney general and Trump to this day.
On May 9, 2017, Rosenstein penned a memo to Trump recommending that he fire Comey, due to the fact that he was “wrong to usurp the Attorney General [Loretta Lynch]” on July 5, 2016 when he announced he would not recommend Hillary Clinton be prosecuted for alleged offenses related to the presence of classified information on her personal email server.
But a week later, on May 17, 2017, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee a federal investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.