Based entirely on unnamed sources, the New York Times on Friday reported Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration.”
The Times said he discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.
Rosenstein on Friday asserted the report was false. He said that based on personal interactions with the president, there is no basis for any 25th Amendment action, the constitutional provision allowing for succession when a president is deemed to be incapacitated.
The Times said Rosenstein “made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil.”
Rosenstein, at the time, was just two weeks into his job, the Times said.
“He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.”
The remarks about secretly recording Trump and the 25th Amendment were made “in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials.”
“Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments,” the Times said.
Observers immediately pointed out the sources are unnamed, and the Times admitted none of Rosenstein’s proposals “apparently came to fruition.”
“It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Rosenstein blasted the Times for basing its report on unnamed sources.
“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.”
The Times’ report speculates on motives, saying the president was “viewed as ineffectively conducting his duties.”
It does not identify who held that opinion.
In the end, the proposals attributed to Rosenstein “went nowhere,” the report said.