Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein allegedly plotted to secretly record President Donald Trump last year after he fired FBI Director James Comey; Rosenstein reportedly sought to recruit Trump administration officials who could help him invoke the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office.
The New York Times report states that Rosenstein made the suggestions after Trump fired Comey and after it had been revealed that Trump sought Comey's loyalty and wanted the investigation into former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, brought to an end. The NYT reports:
Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.
The Times states that Rosenstein discussed secretly recording Trump and using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office with officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Multiple officials, who could only speak on the condition of anonymity, said that Rosenstein's comments were documented in memos written by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Shortly after the Times' story was published, ABC News confirmed the report with their own sources who were familiar with the memos.
While Rosenstein's plans were never enacted, he reportedly told McCabe that he believed he could persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-DHS Secretary John Kelly to lead a movement that would involve using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The Times adds:
The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sitting in on Mr. Trump’s interviews with prospective F.B.I. directors and facing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time.
Rosenstein responded to the Times' report by saying it was "inaccurate" and "incorrect."
"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," Rosenstein said in a statement to the Times. "But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."
"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," Michael R. Bromwich, counsel to McCabe, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
"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," the statement continued. "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."
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