Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump and discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him, the New York Times reported Friday.
The Times said several people described the episodes in the report, and that they insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. In a separate story, the Washington Post reported that memos written by Andrew McCabe, formerly the acting FBI director, said Rosenstein suggested recording Trump and invoking the amendment.
The Times said Rosenstein made the suggestions last spring after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Then two weeks into his job, Rosenstein made his remarks in meetings with other Justice Department and FBI officials, the Times reported.
The report says Rosenstein suggested the secret recording to expose chaos in the administration. The 25th Amendment provides a complex process for the removal of a sitting president. An unsigned piece published in the Times earlier this month said there were “early whispers” within the cabinet of using it.
The piece published Friday says the Rosenstein episode is the first known instance of a named senior administration official weighing the 25th Amendment. The op-ed writer’s name is unknown to reporters in the Times’ news department, the Times says.
The deputy attorney general is quoted in the Times’ piece as saying the story is “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”
Rosenstein said the story’s sources were “obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda.” He added that based on his personal dealings with Trump, “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman cited by the Times provided a statement from a person present when Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire. That person said Rosenstein made the remark sarcastically.
Rosenstein oversees the Russia election-meddling investigation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the Times’ story must not be used “as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein” to install another official allowing Trump to interfere with the investigation.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., reacted with sarcasm at what he says are efforts to undermine his father.
Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump.
Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment https://t.co/ZTEwS8E1iJ
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 21, 2018