Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham vowed on “Face the Nation” this weekend that he would hold a hearing to investigate former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s widely reported claim that high-ranking figures in the Justice Department, particularly Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, had discussed using the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump.
In an interview with “60 Minutes” last week promoting his new book, McCabe said he and Rosenstein seriously discussed potentially orchestrating a coup through the 25th Amendment, which empowers the Cabinet to remove a sitting president if he’s deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Rosenstein, he said, “offered to wear a wire into the White House” to catch Trump saying something disqualifying, a claim Rosenstein has dismissed as a sarcastic joke. “He was absolutely serious,” McCabe told “60 Minutes.” “And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had. I never actually considered taking him up on the offer. I did discuss it with my general counsel and my leadership team back at the FBI after he brought it up the first time.”
Calling McCabe’s claim that they were seriously discussing a quiet coup a “tremendous allegation,” “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan asked Graham if he’s ever asked Rosenstein if the conversation ever actually happened.
Noting that Rosenstein’s “publicly denied it,” Graham stressed, “The whole point of Congress existing is to provide oversight of the executive branch. So through good reporting by ’60 Minutes,’ there’s an allegation by the acting FBI director at the time that the deputy attorney general was basically trying to do an administrative coup, take the president down by the 25th Amendment process. The deputy attorney general denies it.”
The South Carolina senator then made his vow to the audience: “So I promise your viewers the following; that we will have a hearing about who’s telling the truth, what actually happened. Mr. McCabe, you remember, was dismissed from the FBI for leaking information to the press. So you’ve got to remember the source here.”
Saying he believes the country “needs to know if it happened,” Graham said it was simply “stunning” that a leader of the FBI would proudly go on television and brag about the “attempted bureaucratic coup.”
“I don’t know who’s telling the truth,” he said. “I know Rosenstein vehemently denied it, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it. I do know there was a lot of monkey business about FISA warrants being issued against Carter Page, about dossiers coming from Russia that were unverified. Mr. Mueller is going to look at the Trump campaign as he should to see if they violated any laws during the 2016 election. And I’m going to do everything I can to get to the bottom of the Department of Justice FBI behavior toward President Trump and his campaign.”
Brennan responded by expressing concern that such an inquiry might be doing “some damage” to “the credibility of the FBI,” to which he fired back: “Quite the opposite. If it happened we need to clean it up. The FBI has gotten off track in the past. It’s one of the greatest organizations in the world. The Hoover years have proven to be pretty dark periods for the FBI. The latter part of the Hoover days where politicians were being blackmailed. There is no organization beyond scrutiny. There is no organization that can’t withstand scrutiny. And the FBI will come out stronger. But we’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”
President Trump has since responded to McCabe’s claims by calling for action against those involved.
“Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe,” Trump said in a series of tweets Monday morning. “He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught[.] There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the Military, Vets, Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”
“This was an illegal coup attempt on the President of the United States,” he wrote, quoting Dan Bongino on “Fox and Friends.” “True!”