Curious how Trump-backers believe every word in the New York Times when a story is in their interest but question every word when it’s not. #RodRosenstein— Richard Stengel (@stengel) September 22, 2018
President Donald Trump has often proven to be quite an easy target when it comes to secret recordings.
While definitely not one of Trump’s former allies, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly also introduced the idea of wearing a wire to record the president, a bombshell New York Times report alleged.
Not only that, Rosenstein, following the turmoil in the White House over the firing of then-FBI director James Comey, discussed invoking the 25th Amendment, which would deem Trump unfit to run the Oval Office.
However, Rosenstein played an important role in the shock firing of Comey; his memo — in which he was critical of the former FBI director’s handling of Hillary Clinton email probe — was cited by White House aides to justify the firing.
Rosenstein was reportedly caught off guard and he told people he felt he had been used.
Rosenstein reportedly talked about recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment in meeting with justice department officials and FBI officials, sources said. These individuals came to know of these conversations directly or by memos written by FBI officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director.
The second-in-command at the Department of Justice reportedly told McCabe, he would be able to convince Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to work together in efforts to push Trump out of the White House.
The bombshell report comes, only a couple of weeks after a New York Times op-ed by a “senior Trump official” alleged there was an internal “resistance” which was working against the POTUS’ agenda.
There has been no indication if Rosenstein wrote the op-ed. Even NYT journalists reportedly do not have any idea about the author.
Rosenstein, on the other hand, has unequivocally denied the allegations made in the report.
“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he said in a statement. “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.”
According to another statement by a Justice Department spokeswoman which included the account of a person present at the time Rosenstein apparently made the recording comment, said the Justice Department No. 2 was “sarcastically” making the comment.
However, according to others familiar with the conversation, Rosenstein when asked if he was serious, reiterated the suggestion and also said other F.B.I. officials who were interviewing for the post of director, following Comey’s exit, could also try and record Trump.
Rosenstein also reportedly worried his reputation was tainted after his memo was used as a major cause in Comey’s firing.
In the following days, Rosenstein met with McCabe and other FBI officials when he first raised the idea of recording Trump. He added his phone was never check by White House officials, making it a rather easy job. He was apparently frustrated at the disarrayed White House and Trump’s handling of interviewing the next FBI head.
The proposition, apparently, went nowhere.
The other suggestion by Rosenstein — invoking the 25th Amendment — came with its own risks.
If, for the sake of argument, Kelly and Sessions had agreed with Rosenstein, there was still the danger that Trump might become aware of the plan and fire everyone involved.
McCabe’s memos also play a pivotal role in the providing Rosenstein’s involvement in the attempt to overthrow Trump.
In one of the memos, Rosenstein was reportedly emotional and wished Comey was still there at the FBI.
Rosenstein has been a long-sought target of Trump allies, with reports that the president was contemplating firing the Justice Department no. 2. After Session’s recusal, he has also been overlooking the Russian investigation, which the president has repeatedly termed as a tainted “witch hunt.”
But Rosenstein has another important role, that of a witness for Trump’s lawyer who sought to use him to defend the POTUS’ dismissal of Comey, which is being investigated for obstruction of justice.
Another interesting aspect of the report is that it did not garner the usual rage tweet from Trump that would usually accompany such pieces by the NYT. Trump has long berated the media, the New York Times in particular, for publishing “Fake News.”
Also, Trump allies, who usually refer to the news outlet as the “failing NY Times,” a Trump-issued nickname, were quick to agree with the report, when they usually dispute other pieces.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Chris Wattie