Rosenstein, McCabe squabbled in front of Mueller over Russia probe recusals

In May 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe argued that the other man should recuse himself from any role in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation -- while Mueller looked on.

A source briefed on the encounter told Fox News that at one point, McCabe suggested that Rosenstein could be a witness in the Mueller investigation due to his authorship of a memo the Trump administration had used as justification for firing FBI Director James Comey earlier that month. Rosenstein, who has overseen the Mueller probe after the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, countered by saying that McCabe may need to recuse himself because he had been photographed years earlier while wearing a T-shirt supporting his wife's unsuccessful 2015 campaign for the Virginia state Senate.

The meeting, which was first reported by The Washington Post, took place just days after another meeting in which Rosenstein discussed wearing a "wire" to secretly record President Trump. Rosenstein's remarks were recorded in a memo written by McCabe, underscoring the distrust between the two men in the days following Comey's dismissal.

Fox News has since reported, citing a source in the meeting, that Rosenstein's remarks were viewed as sarcastic and the deputy attorney general has since released a statement denying that he had ever suggested recording Trump or advocated removing him from office.

However, former FBI General Counsel James A. Baker told congressional investigators last week that McCabe and then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page had relayed details of Rosenstein's comments to him. Baker also told lawmakers that he suspected that Rosenstein was coordinating with members of the Trump administration to remove the president from office by invoking the 25th Amendment.

McCabe’s memos documenting the Rosenstein meeting were turned over to the special counsel Mueller. The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for the documents, but they were not provided by the Oct. 4 deadline. Some House Republicans have called for Rosenstein to subpoenaed to appear before Congress so he can clarify his comments.  FBI Director Chris Wray declined to commit to providing the memos when he testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.

McCabe was fired this past March for what the Justice Department called a lack of candor after a report by the department's internal watchdog accused him of misleading investigators about his role in leaks to the news media relating to the investigation of the Clinton Foundation. The inspector general's report notes that McCabe asked FBI ethics officials about the T-shirt picture and was told he did not have to recuse himself.

McCabe and his wife, Jill, have been frequent targets of President Trump's ire. The president has accused McCabe of lying during the watchdog investigation and having a political bias because his wife accepted campaign contributions from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton.

Fox News' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.