Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year discussed removing President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment and proposed secretly taping him, according to reports Friday from The New York Times and The Washington Post.
In a statement, Rosenstein said that the Times report was “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” The Post report was published after the statement was released.
According to the Times, Rosenstein talked to Justice Department and FBI officials about secretly recording Trump and recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office shortly after the May 2017 firing of then-FBI director James Comey.
In the aftermath of Comey’s firing, Rosenstein became frustrated by Trump’s use of a memo he wrote in justifying Comey’s dismissal, according to The Times. The three-page memo was critical of Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office.
“Rosenstein began telling associates that he would ultimately be ‘vindicated’ for his role in the matter” shortly after the FBI director’s dismissal, The Times reported.
Rosenstein told then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe that he thought he might be able to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to invoke the 25th Amendment, the Times reported. It was not clear how far he pursued the idea.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department provided a statement to The Times from a person who said he or she was present when Rosenstein talked about wearing a wire.
“The person, who would not be named, acknowledge the remark but said Mr. Rosenstein made it sarcastically,” The Times reported.
Rosenstein said Friday that the sources that spoke with the Times were “obviously biased against the Department and are advancing their own personal agenda.”
“Let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealing with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” he said.
Several unidentified sources confirmed the incidents to the newspaper, saying they had either been briefed about the conversations in person or through memos written by McCabe. The Post also cited McCabe memos that detailed conversations with Rosenstein.
In a statement released Friday, an attorney for McCabe said he drafted memos after having “significant discussions” with high-level officials “so he could have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions.”
“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 said. “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.”
Rosenstein is the top Justice Department official overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump and Trump campaign officials.
Rosenstein took charge of the investigation in March 2017 after Sessions recused himself under pressure over his own contacts with Russian officials.
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