Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed the possibility of secretly recording President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to impeach him in the days following the firing of former FBI director James Comey, the New York Times reported Friday.
Just two weeks into his tenure as deputy attorney general, Rosenstein reportedly began to regret his role in crafting a memo that cast Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as incompetent and was ultimately used to justify his firing.
In conversations with Department of Justice and FBI officials, Rosenstein reportedly considered wearing a wire himself to document chaos in the White House. He also suggested that candidates interviewing for the open FBI director position might secretly record the president, presumably in an effort to document a loyalty test like the one the president is said to have posed to Comey.
Around the same time, Rosenstein reportedly discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would declare the president unfit for office and prompt impeachment proceedings. Rosenstein also suggested that he could likely convince Chief of Staff John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to support the impeachment effort.
Rosenstein disputed the Times‘ characterization of events, which is based on the word of sources briefed on the conversations or on FBI memos describing those conversations.
“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.”
Update 3:14p.m.: NBC reports that Rosenstein did mention secretly recording Trump but did so in jest, based on a source with first hand knowledge.