- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly thought he could persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to lead an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office.
- The New York Times reported the news Friday, citing anonymous sources who were briefed on Rosenstein’s comments or memos from FBI officials, including Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the bureau.
- Rosenstein disputed The Times’ story.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein thought he could persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to lead an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Donald Trump from office last May, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Rosenstein, The Times reported, said as much to then-FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe in the days that immediately followed Trump firing FBI Director James Comey.
The Times reported that Rosenstein commented on invoking the 25th Amendment and about secretly recording Trump in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials, according to several people who described the comments to the publication.
Those sources were either briefed on the comments or on memos FBI officials such as McCabe authored.
In a statement to The Times, Rosenstein disputed the story, calling it “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” He added that the information was planted by “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,” he said.
An anonymous Justice Department spokeswoman told The Times that a person who was present when Rosenstein proposed secretly recording Trump by wearing a wire during a meeting with the president said the comment was made sarcastically.
Other publications reported that the comment was sarcastic in nature.
McCabe’s attorney told The Times in a statement that his client “has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”
Rosenstein’s proposals did not ultimately come to fruition, The Times wrote.
The 25th Amendment has come up quite a bit during Trump’s presidency
There has been plenty of chatter about invoking the 25th Amendment during the course of Trump’s presidency.
Earlier this month, a senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration authored an anonymous New York Times op-ed in which they wrote that members of the Cabinet discussed it.
“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president,” the anonymous official wrote. “But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until – one way or another – it’s over.”
That followed a discussion earlier this year that was in line with the release of the explosive book, “Fire and Fury” – whose author, Michael Wolff, said the amendment was brought up “all the time” in the White House.
And late last year, a Vanity Fair report suggested that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon believes it is the most plausible way Trump could be removed from office.
But the amendment contains a fatal flaw that renders it essentially useless in such a scenario.
A section of the 1967 constitutional amendment allows for the vice president plus a majority of the Cabinet members to declare that the president is unfit for office.
But there is no mechanism for dealing with a president who simply decides to fire Cabinet members who choose to join with a majority declaring the president unfit once a president were to catch wind of the effort.
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