Department of Justice

NYT: Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Taping Trump, Using the 25th Amendment to Oust Him

Rosenstein was not happy with how Trump handled the James Comey firing.


Terrence Antonio James/TNS/Newscom Oliver Contreras/CNP/AdMedia/Newscom

Following President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly spoke with Justice Department officials about invoking the 25th Amendment. According to The New York Times, Rosenstein also suggested that he or other officials wear a wire and secretly record Trump.

The Times says Rosenstein was upset about how the president fired Comey. When he announced the move, Trump originally cited Comey's mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. The White House also released a memo from Rosenstein criticizing Comey for how he ran the Clinton probe. Rosenstein was reportedly aggravated that Trump had relied on the memo to publicly justify firing Comey. Rosenstein was also reportedly displeased by the way Trump tried to replace Comey. According to the Times, Rosenstein told four Justice Department officials, plus then–Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, that the president wasn't taking the process seriously.

During a meeting with these officials, the Times says, Rosenstein

raised the idea of wearing a recording device or "wire," as he put it, to secretly tape the president when he visited the White House. One participant asked whether Mr. Rosenstein was serious, and he replied animatedly that he was.

If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered. White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for meetings there, Mr. Rosenstein added, implying it would be easy to secretly record Mr. Trump.

A source who heard Rosenstein's remarks tells CNN that the deputy attorney general was being sarcastic. Other sources tell the Times he was serious.

Rosenstein also reportedly suggested invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president from office if they think he's unfit.

Rosenstein has vehemently denied the Times' reporting, telling the paper that it is "factually incorrect." He also said that "based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

The Times says it based its reporting on multiple anonymous accounts:

Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe

CNN reports that those McCabe memos have been given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the probe into Russian election meddling. Michael R. Bromwich, a lawyer for McCabe, told the Times his client "has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

Rumors have abounded for months that Trump has considered firing Rosenstein, though the president said last month they have a "great relationship."