Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disputed a New York Times report that he considered secretly recording President Donald Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
The Times reported Friday that Rosenstein discussed “recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment” and possibly making a secret recording in spring of 2017, soon after Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
The Rosenstein story followed a recent media narrative of people within the Trump Administration plotting against him: Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House,” described aides removing documents from Trump’s desk so he wouldn’t sign them, and an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, written by a Trump aide, described people in the administration trying to curb the president’s worst impulses.
But Rosenberg, the No. 2 official in the Justice Department, denied the Times’ account.
“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he said in a statement Friday. “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,” Rosenstein said. The White House did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The Times said the episode was “the first known instance of a named senior administration official weighing the 25th Amendment,” though it said Rosenstein did not appear to have followed through on any of the ideas attributed to him.
The 25th Amendment lays out the unusual conditions that would allow for the removal of a president. It reads, in part:
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
The 25th Amendment has been used in the past when the president temporarily handed off his powers to the Vice President because the president was in the midst of a medical procedure that left him temporarily incapacitated. But it has never been used in a case in which the president’s underlings determined he was too mentally unstable to hold office.