Terrence Antonio James/TNS/Newscom Oliver Contreras/CNP/AdMedia/NewscomFollowing 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 Times, Rosenstein told four Justice Department officials, plus then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, that the president wasn't taking the process seriously. Rosenstein was then asked in the meeting if he was serious, and he said yes, but he thought the question he was responding to referred to something else and he did not mean for the wire comment to be taken seriously, the person said.
"The New York Times's story is inaccurate and factually incorrect", he said.
"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", he said.
The sources were responding to a New York Times report that Rosenstein, in the tumultuous spring of 2017, had discussed with other Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials the possibility of recruiting members of Trump's Cabinet to declare him unfit for the job and that he offered to wear a recording device during conversations with the president. He also initiated discussions about invoking the 25th amendment, which details how the Cabinet can decide whether a president is no longer able to discharge the duties of the job, one of the McCabe memos said.
A person who was in the room at the time, and provided a statement through the Justice Department, said Rosenstein's comment was "sarcastic" and that he "never discussed any intention of recording a conversation with the president". As the Times now reports the episode, when Trump informed Rosenstein and Attorney General Sessions of his plan to fire Comey, Rosenstein, to the surprise of White House officials, "embraced the idea, even offering to write the memo about the Clinton email inquiry".
The statement did not deny the allegations in the article, and it acknowledged he had written memos to keep a record of his discussions with top administration officials.
McCabe has no knowledge of how the memos were made available, said his lawyer Michael Bromwich. McCabe documented conversations with senior officials, including Trump, in a series of memos that have since been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his Russian Federation investigation.
In conversations with allies, the report continues, the Deputy Attorney General vowed be would be "vindicated" for memo being pinned on him.
Rumors have abounded for months that Trump has considered firing Rosenstein, though the president said last month they have a "great relationship". Rosenstein was reportedly aggravated that Trump had relied on the memo to publicly justify firing Comey.
Trump has long disparaged with the deputy attorney general, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.
CNN and others previously reported that McCabe has turned over to Mueller his contemporaneous notes on what Comey told McCabe about his private interactions with Trump, McCabe's own interactions with Trump and McCabe's impressions of meetings with Rosenstein.