UPDATE — 9/27, 1:21 p.m. EDT: The White House has announced President Trump will meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein next week so as not to disturb Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Trump said Wednesday he would “much prefer” not to have to fire Rosenstein.
On Friday night, the New York Times delivered a bomb shell report: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording President Trump and discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
Citing anonymous sources who were either briefed on events or saw relevant memos, the Times says statements were made in the spring of 2017, following the ouster of FBI Director James Comey.
The article goes on to suggest that Rosenstein was so distraught over the dismissal Comey and the manner in which his replacement was being handled by the White House that he was actively seeking to provide evidence to support the removal of Trump from office.
The events were reportedly memorialized by Andrew McCabe, who was acting director of the FBI at the time, and who has since been fired for providing misleading testimony to the DOJ’s inspector general. McCabe declined comment on the story, but his attorney, Michael R. Bromwich, released the following statement:
“A set of those memos remained at the F.B.I. at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”
Other news outlets, including NBC, reported comments attributed to Rosenstein were intended sarcastically. According to their Justice Department sources, Rosenstein said: “Well, what do you want me to do, Andy, wear a wire?”
A DOJ spokeswoman also provided a statement to the Times from a person who was present when Mr. Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire and said the remark was made sarcastically.
Rosenstein responded in two separate statements. The first was released shortly after the story broke:
“The New York Times’s 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. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Amid the media frenzy that ensued, Rosenstein issued another statement later Friday, reportedly after meeting with White House aides:
“I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.”
Speaking at a rally in Springfield, Mo., Friday evening, Trump said,
“Look at what’s being exposed at the Department of Justice and the FBI. We have great people in the Department of Justice . . . but we have some real bad ones. You see what’s happening at the FBI, they’re all gone, they’re all gone. But there’s a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.”
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, suggested that Rosenstein’s job might be in jeopardy in comments made on Fox News Sunday:
“If you can’t be on the team, if you’re not supporting this mission, then maybe you just ought to find something else to do.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace if Rosenstein’s reported behavior would constitute “being on the team”, Pompeo said, “Not remotely.”
Alternatively, Trump’s friend and adviser, Sean Hannity, had a different take a day after speaking directly to the president during his broadcast:
We have a very special message for the President of the United States tonight: he needs not to fall into a trap…
Under no circumstances — I have a message for the president tonight — under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody…
The president needs to know it is all a setup… it’s not the first time the deep state has been caught trying to sabotage President Trump.
While some criticized the Times for providing ammunition, or perhaps motivation, for Trump to oust Rosenstein, the authors stood by their reporting.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, Adam Goldman stated:
“People didn’t want to tell me because the context surrounding the wire was deadly serious.”
Goldman went on to say that both the wire allegation and the 25th Amendment allegation are “known facts.”
The White House had yet to respond to the story as of Saturday evening.
[New York Times] [Washington Post] [NBC News] [CNN] [Fox News] [Photo courtesy Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images via Politico]