Pete Marovich/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Top Justice Department officials discussed the possibility of recruiting cabinet members to push President Donald Trump out of office in the wake of James Comey’s dismissal from the FBI, according to Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI director, in an interview that aired Thursday.
In the wide-ranging interview, which airs in full Sunday on 60 Minutes, McCabe described details of the FBI’s counterintelligence inquiry into President Trump’s ties to Russia and the genesis of the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller in May of 2017. McCabe described his concern that he may be removed from the probe and took steps to protect the investigation.
"I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion," McCabe said in a clip of the interview that aired Thursday morning. "That were I removed quickly, or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace."
Within hours of McCabe’s interview airing on CBS This Morning, the president called him “a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey.” McCabe was named acting director after Comey’s departure. He was eventually fired in March of 2018 by then-attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a “poor little Angel” when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax – a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey. I.G. report on McCabe was devastating. Part of “insurance policy” in case I won….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2019
McCabe’s suggestion that Justice Department officials seriously considered a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment in ousting Trump from the White House was previously reported by ABC News and other news outlets last year.
“They were counting noses,” according to CBS News’ Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview with McCabe. “They were not asking cabinet members whether they would vote for or against removing the president, but they were speculating ‘This person would be with us, this person would not be,’ and they were counting noses in that effort.”
According to Pelley, McCabe also made reference to another previously reported detail of those May 2017 meetings — that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire during discussions with President Trump.
At the time, Rosenstein responded to those reports by claiming he “never pursued or authorized recording the president,” and denied advocating a plan to remove Trump from office. Sources told ABC News that many people in the room recalled Rosenstein raising the prospect of wearing a wire to a discussion with the president.
But Pelley said Thursday that McCabe indicated he thought Rosenstein’s wire overtures were serious.
“This was not perceived to be a joke,” Pelley said. “McCabe in our interview says, no, it came up more than once and it was so serious that he took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it.”
The Justice Department said Thursday that “McCabe’s recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect.”
“The Deputy Attorney General never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references. As the Deputy Attorney General previously has stated, based on his personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment,” The Justice Department statement read.
McCabe is publishing a book next week called The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.
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