Looks like Andrew McCabe still hasn’t quite gotten his story straight. Did the former FBI director attempt to foment a coup in May 2017? The FBI’s general counsel certainly thought so — because McCabe and Lisa Page told him so. And, James Baker told Congress last fall, they told him that Rod Rosenstein had lined up at least two Cabinet members to back the play:
Former top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.
The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book.
Baker did not identify the two Cabinet officials. But 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.
“I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he — this was what was related to me — that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment,” Baker told the committees.
That doesn’t match what McCabe was slinging last week. CBS News had reported that the former FBI director claimed that serious discussions had taken place at the Department of Justice to remove Donald Trump via the 25th Amendment. After sustaining Category 5 blowback over attempting a coup, McCabe tried walking back the comments through his spokeswoman:
“To clarify, at no time did Mr. McCabe participate in any extended discussions about the use of the 25th Amendment, nor is he aware of any such discussions. He was present and participated in a discussion that included a comment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein regarding the 25th Amendment,” she said.
If Baker told the truth to the House committees, then this is a flat-out lie. What reason would Baker have to lie about it? This testimony, unlike McCabe’s on 60 Minutes, carries significant legal penalties if it’s knowingly false. Just as Michael Cohen about the legal liability involved in lying to Congress.
Baker’s role in this would be curious indeed, if he’s telling the truth. He was just the FBI’s general counsel, with no role at all in such a process [see update]. Why would McCabe or Page come to him after Comey’s firing to talk 25th-Amendment coups? It might make sense if Baker, McCabe, and Page were part of a covert effort to leak the dossier to push Trump into resigning.
This raises questions for McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein. All three of them are likely to end up in front of Lindsey Graham’s Senate Judiciary Committee probe to testify under oath about what the hell was going on at the DoJ during those eight days in May. Rosenstein will have to answer questions about his alleged determination to wear a wire to further the plot, which Rosenstein denies, as well as any contacts he had with Cabinet officials regarding a 25th Amendment action.
However, note well that Baker never heard this directly from Rosenstein. Baker said he got this information from McCabe and/or Lisa Page, which raises even more questions. Why would this come to him at all? The FBI has no constitutional role in such a plan. It may well have been McCabe’s attempt to push others into getting their hands dirty in a plot by using Rosenstein’s more significant political profile as bait. That might explain why McCabe seems so determined to rope him into the plot now, too.
So who were the two Cabinet officials that McCabe told Baker Rosenstein had on board? I suspect that was a figment of McCabe’s imagination. If it wasn’t, though, the mole hunt Graham will initiate will be fun to watch.
Update: Originally, I noted that Baker and Page resigned before Comey got fired. They resigned almost a year after Trump fired Comey. I made a mistake by not noting the difference in years, and I have deleted that portion from the post above. My apologies for the error.