The New York Times reported on Friday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording his conversations with President Donald Trump “to expose the chaos consuming the administration” and raised the 25th Amendment as a way of seeking his impeachment with cabinet members.
“Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil,” the Times reported. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.”
Rosenstein made the suggestions to other Justice Department and FBI officials, according to the story. Anonymous sources told the NYT that they were briefed on the events themselves or on memos written by FBI officials, including former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
According to the NYT, Rosenstein told McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to start the process of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
The 25th Amendment, proposed by Congress and ratified by the states in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, provides the procedures for replacing the president or vice president in the event of death, removal, resignation, or incapacitation. The Watergate scandal of the 1970s saw the application of these procedures, first when Gerald Ford replaced Spiro Agnew as vice president, then when he replaced Richard Nixon as president, and then when Nelson Rockefeller filled the resulting vacancy to become the vice president.
On Friday, Rosenstein denied the allegations in the NYT report. “The New York Times‘ story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the Justice Department and are advancing their own personal agenda,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “But let me be clear about this: based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman who was present when Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire, and who would not be named, said that Rosenstein did make the remark but did so sarcastically.
Other officials who described Rosenstein’s comments, however, said that he was being serious.
“But according to the others who described his comments, Mr. Rosenstein not only confirmed that he was serious about the idea but also followed up by suggesting that other FBI officials who were interviewing to be the bureau’s director could also secretly record Mr. Trump,” the NYT reported.
Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and has been a target of Trump’s ire for not ending the probe. (Source material: Washington Free Beacon)