Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said Thursday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told him during a 2017 meeting that he thought two Cabinet members might support efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.
Fox News on Sunday reported similar comments from former top FBI lawyer James Baker, who claimed Rosenstein said two Cabinet members were “ready to support” such an effort. In a previous interview promoting his new book, McCabe said Rosenstein discussed the possibility of Cabinet members supporting the 25th Amendment idea, without getting into specifics.
McCabe did not name names during a session with reporters Thursday either, but echoed the claim that Rosenstein was eyeing two Cabinet members. However, he stressed that Rosenstein had not actually asked anyone to support it and suggested he was speculating about which Cabinet members might sign on.
“Rod indicated to me people he thought might support -- not that he had Cabinet members, not that he'd asked anybody, not that he'd floated the idea to two Cabinet members or the entire Cabinet or anyone else -- simply that he thought two people might support it,” McCabe said Thursday during the wide-ranging discussion with reporters.
McCabe said he could not remember which two Cabinet members Rosenstein was referring to and did not want to guess about a matter so serious.
“I don't very clearly remember who Rod was talking about and I don't want to give you the wrong names so it's better that I don't comment,” McCabe said.
He described the days following Trump's ousting of former FBI Director James Comey, when Rosenstein is alleged to have made the comments, as “frenzied.”
Rosenstein, who still works at the Justice Department but who is expected to exit by next month, has denied the claims since they first surfaced in the media last year. The White House said this week that Trump will nominate Jeff Rosen to replace him.
“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 said in a statement last week, also pushing back on claims Rosenstein looked at wearing a "wire" to tape Trump.
But Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress last year, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment, claiming he was told Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort. In his testimony, the lawyer said McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to him to relay their conversations with Rosenstein, including discussions of the 25th Amendment.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, McCabe was asked to describe his relationship with Comey, his former boss, and said, "I don't really have a relationship with Jim now."
Comey and McCabe have previously contradicted each other over whether McCabe told his former boss he was going to speak with a newspaper reporter for a story on the Clinton email case – an issue which led to McCabe’s firing from the FBI last year.
McCabe is now under investigation by the Washington U.S. Attorney's Office for leaking information to that reporter. McCabe's lawyer, Michael Bromwich, on Thursday confirmed that investigation is still ongoing. "We have been in touch with the US Attorney's Office," Bromwich said, saying the probe is “underway."
On Thursday, McCabe also denied past claims he told congressional investigators that without the "Steele dossier," they would not have been able to obtain a FISA warrant on former Trump campaign official Carter Page. That dossier of unverified claims about Trump and his relationship with Russia has played a major role in the Russia investigation.
"My belief is that that is a fundamental misrepresentation of what I said," McCabe said.
McCabe also defended Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, citing the number of “indictments, convictions, guilty pleas.” It’s believed Mueller will submit a report to the attorney general in the near future about his investigation.
“You've got dozens of indicted intelligence officers, people connected to foreign intelligence services in Russia,” McCabe said. “I mean, it's a remarkable investigation, and it's one that's produced tangible and meaningful results, and I think that alone justifies and validates, certainly our initial fears, our initial concerns and I think it validates the process that Mueller and his team have gone through to get here.”
McCabe, who has sparred with the president as well as lawmakers on Capitol Hill about his leadership at the FBI, was asked if he is still a Republican.
"I can't imagine voting for a Republican now," he said.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.