WASHINGTON — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied a new report in the New York Times that alleges he wanted to surreptitiously record President Trump and discussed rallying cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office.
The report claims Rosenstein made the suggestions in spring 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and the president met privately in the Oval Office with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The NYT said that Rosenstein’s comments were reflected in FBI memos including from former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Rosenstein said in a statement today that the story “is inaccurate and factually 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 added. “But let me be clear about this: based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Rosenstein did not name any names or mention the effort by some members of the House Freedom Caucus to fire the deputy attorney general.
“Andy McCabe is under investigation for lying to the FBI. His words and memos should be viewed with extreme skepticism,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) tweeted. “But if this story is true, it underscores a gravely troubling culture at FBI/DOJ and the need for FULL transparency. Declassify everything. Let Americans judge.”
“Mr. Rosenstein, give Congress the McCabe memos that we asked for in July and all the other documents we’ve requested so we can all judge for ourselves,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the found of the caucus.
Trump was on the campaign trail today from Nevada to Missouri and had not commented. Politico reported that the White House knew about the story at least 24 hours before it broke.
One person in the meeting in which the comment was reportedly made about wearing a wire said Rosenstein’s comment “was sarcastic and was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president.”
“I know him enough to know that he knows the 25th Amendment is about incapacity,” said James Trusty, a former senior DOJ official and friend of Rosenstein. “It’s not, ‘I don’t like the president. He’s treating me badly.’ It would not be even remotely in his mind as an option.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that “this story must not be used as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in order install an official who will allow the president to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
“Generals Kelly, Mattis and numerous other White House and cabinet officials have been reported to say critical things of the president without being fired,” Schumer noted.