by Daveda Gruber: The FBI’s top lawyer was told by two senior FBI officials that they believed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was “serious” when he discussed secretly recording President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year. This conflicts with claims from Rosenstein and others that the comments either were inaccurately reported or made in jest.
Congressional investigators, during a closed-door deposition last week, were told by former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker that then FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to Baker “contemporaneously” after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Baker said that Page and McCabe relayed details of the meeting where Rosenstein made the comments.
Baker told congressional investigators he suspected “Rosenstein was coordinating with two people in the administration to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Baker wasn’t in that meeting personally, but he told congressional investigators he took McCabe and Page’s account “seriously.”
News came out of the alleged discussions between Rosenstein and senior FBI officials in May 2017, a day before Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia investigation.
Rosenstein released a statement saying, “I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.”
Rosenstein’s “wire” comments were viewed as “sarcastic,” sources say.
The meeting included Rosenstein, McCabe and Page, among others, and took place at the Justice Department.
McCabe’s memos documenting the Rosenstein meeting were turned over to Mueller.
The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for the records, but they were not provided by last Thursday’s deadline.
Strain started to build between the White House and DOJ, where Rosenstein oversees the Mueller-led probe.
Wild speculation arose that the deputy attorney general might be fired or quit. A meeting between Trump and Rosenstein was delayed repeatedly because of the Kavanaugh chaos that had taken longer than anticipated.
On Monday, Trump and Rosenstein met for 45 minutes aboard Air Force One, which was en route to a police conference in Florida. Trump said the conversation was “great,” and he has no plans to fire Rosenstein.
A DOJ spokesperson said the department stood by its previous statements about Baker’s account.
Baker, a former FBI general counsel, was a senior figure with a pivotal position was listened to by the FBI director.
Baker formerly the FBI’s top lawyer, also is at the heart of surveillance abuse accusations, many from congressional Republicans. His deposition lays the groundwork for a planned closed-door House GOP interview with Rosenstein later this week.
Baker helped secure the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He also got the three subsequent renewals.
Republican investigators said they believed Baker could explain why information about the British ex-spy behind a scandalous Trump-related dossier, Christopher Steele. Steele’s obvious bias against then-candidate Trump, were withheld from the FISA court.
It is not known whether other exculpatory information was known to Rosenstein when he signed the final FISA renewal for Page in June 2017.
So, for now Rosenstein still has his job. For how long, I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.