By golly, we may have yet another “lacking candor” moment from Andrew McCabe. Earlier today on Morning Joe, the panel asked the former acting FBI director about how far along the effort was to use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from the presidency. “The conversation was not about removing the president,” McCabe interjects, which prompted Willie Geist to remind McCabe that removal is the only function of the 25th Amendment.
McCabe then says Rod Rosenstein only mentioned it in passing. When pressed on whether Rosenstein was counting votes, McCabe says, “Not that I’m aware of”:
McCabe on 60 Minutes: Rosenstein was "counting votes or possible votes" on using the 25th Amendment.
McCabe today on if Rosenstein was counting votes: "Not that I'm aware of." pic.twitter.com/miCBfTmuDI
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 20, 2019
Hmmm. Just three days ago, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired an interview with McCabe where he made the effort sound a lot more serious. In fact, McCabe said their discussion included “counting votes or possible votes”:
Scott Pelley: Did you counsel him on that?
Andrew McCabe: I didn’t. I mean, he was discussing other cabinet members and whether or not people would support such an idea, whether or not other cabinet members would, shared, his belief that the president was — was really concerning, was concerning Rod at that time.
Scott Pelley: Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president.
Andrew McCabe: That’s correct. Counting votes or possible votes.
Scott Pelley: Did he assign specific votes to specific people?
Andrew McCabe: No, not that I recall.
While McCabe also describes this discussion as “wide ranging,” “frenzied chaotic,” it’s McCabe who offers the unprompted claim that Rosenstein was “counting votes.” That directly contradicts what McCabe said this morning on MSNBC.
Don’t forget that former FBI general counsel James Baker has already told at least one congressional committee that it was McCabe who came to him with this idea, not Rosenstein. Baker testified that McCabe told him that they already had two Cabinet officials who would support the move and that he had to talk McCabe down:
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.
McCabe’s story keeps changing as he retells it, and more specifically as he gets challenged in these media interviews. It’s not too tough to see why an Inspector General appointed by Barack Obama found that McCabe “lacked candor” when being grilled by professionals at the FBI. The more he talks, the more this really did look like an attempted coup by inferior officers at the FBI and Department of Justice — and the more it looks like McCabe realizes it. That’s why he’s trying to backpedal from his allegations on 60 Minutes.
Right now the biggest favor McCabe could do for himself is to stop making media appearances. It’s also the biggest favor he could do for Robert Mueller, who must be watching his predicate for a counterintelligence investigation dissipate rapidly before his very eyes.