Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire into the Oval Office to record conversations with President Trump in the days after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, an explosive two-page memo written by then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe claims.
According to McCabe’s notes, Rosenstein said he thought he could get away with wearing a wire because “he was not searched when he entered the White House.”
Justice Department officials have insisted for months that Rosenstein was only joking when he talked about wearing a wire. The DOJ has also pushed back on McCabe’s claim that Rosenstein discussed with Justice Department officials a plan to recruit members of Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
“The Deputy Attorney General again rejects Mr. McCabe’s recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect,” the DOJ said in a statement back in February.
The fired G-Man’s memo—dated May 16, 2017— was obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch last Friday following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. It is redacted in a few key sections, and “purports to serve as a contemporaneous recollection” of McCabe’s meeting with Rosenstein, Deputy Assistant AG for Intelligence Tashina Gauhar and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Jim Crowell in Rosenstein’s Justice Department office on 5/16/2017.
McCabe claims that he began the meeting by telling Rosenstein that he “approved the opening of an investigation of President Donald Trump … to investigate allegations of possible collusion between the president and the Russian Government, possible obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and possible conspiracy to obstruct justice.”
In his memo, McCabe cites the memos Comey wrote detailing his meetings with President Trump, as well as the president’s interview with NBC’s Lester Holt to justify the investigation. In the May 11, 2017 interview, Trump told Holt that he was preparing to fire Comey regardless of recommendations from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then DAG Rosenstein.
McCabe writes that he “informed DAG that as a result of his role in the matter, I thought he would be a witness to the case.”
Rosenstein responded by recounting his discussion with President Trump, then-Attorney General Sessions and then-White House Counsel Don McGahn about Comey’s imminent firing and that President Trump wanted him to write a “memo explaining the reason” for Comey’s firing. McCabe writes:
As our conversation continued the DAG proposed that he could potentially wear a recording device into the Oval Office to collect additional evidence on the President’s true intentions. He said he thought this might be possible because he was not searched when he entered the White House. I told him that I would discuss the opportunity with my investigative team and get back to him.
We discussed the issue of appointing a Special Counsel to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. The DAG said he has two candidates ready, one of whom could start immediately.
Additionally, McCabe admits that Rosenstein told him that McCabe had a “credibility problem” because a Rosenstein staffer had provided him with photos of McCabe wearing his wife’s campaign t-shirt in contradiction to McCabe’s “assurance” he had no role in her campaign. McCabe writes he told him the photos were not from campaign events and that he confirmed with “my ethics counsel at FBI” that wearing such a shirt did not “constitute proscribed political activity.”
According to Judicial Watch, other uncovered DOJ records also reveal discussions regarding Rosenstein’s offer to wear a wire to record Trump.
“This incredible memo details the conflicted and conniving coup effort against President Trump,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is astonishing and shocking McCabe thought he could have the FBI conduct a ‘counterintelligence’ operation on the president and Rosenstein thought it would be appropriate to wear a wire to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office. That the DOJ and FBI sat on this smoking gun for a year shows the need for urgent housecleaning at those agencies.”
You can read the full text of the redacted McCabe memo here.
Former acting attorney General Matthew Whitaker told Fox News host Tucker Carson Monday night that he would like to see the other contemporaneous notes from that meeting to see if they corroborate with McCabe’s story—because the former acting FBI director had a motive to lie.
“I know there were others in on that meeting that also took copious notes,” Whitaker pointed out. “Andy McCabe at the time had a lot of reasons to write down historically inaccurate accounts because he … had just put this president in the investigation as a target.”
Whitaker said that as someone who has worked closely with Rosenstein, he would be surprised if the former DAG had seriously considered wearing a wire to secretly record the president.
“But at the same time, if you read that memo, it’s very clear that Andy McCabe didn’t think Rod was joking,” he added, noting that it was “extraordinary” for a DOJ official to discuss wearing a wire to record the president jokingly or not. “So I’d like to hear what others in the room thought because I was not in the room at the time,” Whitaker said.
Rosenstein and Trump had a tumultuous relationship for the better part of two years, but when he submitted his resignation on April 29, 2019, the former DAG was on good terms with the president.