Fired former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe reportedly told CBS's "60 Minutes" that he and other Justice Department officials discussed recruiting Cabinet members to oust President Donald Trump using the 25th Amendment after Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey.
The New York Times reports that McCabe claims "top Justice Department officials were so alarmed by President Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire James B. Comey, the bureau’s director," that they reached out to individual Cabinet members to judge their receptiveness to triggering the removal clause of the 25th Amendment, which allows the Cabinet to "vote out" a president who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to fulfill the duties of his job.
McCabe also claims that Comey's firing "prompted Mr. McCabe to order the bureau’s team investigating Russia’s election interference to expand their scope to also investigate whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice."
Interviewer Scott Pelley reaffirmed McCabes comments on "CBS This Morning" Thursday.
“The most illuminating and surprising thing in the interview to me were these eight days in May when all of these things were happening behind the scenes that the American people really didn’t know about,” Pelley said about his sit-down with McCabe.
“There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Pelley added. “These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what do with the president.”
McCabe also reportedly confirmed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed having agents wear a wire when talking to the president, something Rosenstein said was mentioned as a joke. Rosenstein has also previously said that while there were discussions about the 25th Amendment, no one at the DOJ ever pursued the matter in earnest or was ever serious about talking to the vice president and others about replacing the president.
McCabe insists neither the wire nor the 25th Amendment discussion was a joke.
The strange thing is, neither the FBI nor the DOJ has the power to remove a president, and DOJ officials certainly cannot lobby members of the president's Cabinet to overthrow the country's leader, so if McCabe is serious that he and others actively petitioned — and queried — the Cabinet over their willingness to depose President Trump, that makes him guilty of instigating a coup, as some on social media have already pointed out.
It's worth noting, though, that McCabe was summarily dismissed from the FBI on the eve of his own retirment, on the belief that he deliberately withheld information (or flat-out lied) under oath to Congressional investigators. An independent investigator assigned by the FBI to look into McCabe's behavior found that "Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions."
He is currently under investigation by a grand jury as part of a larger probe into issues at the Justice Department.