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Former FBI official feared Rosenstein gave Trump cover story to fire Comey over Russia probe: report

Former FBI official feared Rosenstein gave Trump cover story to fire Comey over Russia probe: report
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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Carter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe McCabe defends investigation of Trump before Senate committee: We had 'many reasons' MORE reportedly claimed in a memo he wrote last year that President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE linked firing FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report Tina Fey, Amy Poehler to host Golden Globes from separate coasts amid pandemic MORE to the Russia investigation in a conversation he had with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that McCabe described second-hand a conversation he heard about from Rosenstein, who spoke with Trump about firing Comey. According to McCabe, Trump asked Rosenstein to mention Russia in his memo recommending Comey’s termination.

However, Russia and the investigation of the country’s interference in the 2016 election were not mentioned in Rosenstein’s final document.

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McCabe, according to the Times, believed that Rosenstein may have provided a cover story for Trump to fire Comey over the Russia probe by writing, instead, about the former director’s handling of the probe into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE’s use of a private email server.

But according to the Times's sources, Rosenstein in his recounting of the conversation with Trump said the president wanted Russia mentioned. One person familiar with what Rosenstein said reportedly thought Trump wanted his deputy attorney general to confirm that Trump was not under investigation in the Russia probe.

McCabe has turned over his memo about the conversation to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE, according to the Times.

Spokespeople for McCabe and the Justice Department declined to comment to the Times.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsManchin flexes muscle in 50-50 Senate Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation MORE fired McCabe earlier this year after an inspector general report found that he was not forthright with investigators and that he made an unauthorized disclosure to the media.

McCabe has disputed the report's findings.

Trump has given varied reasonings for firing Comey, linking the Russia probe to his decision to dismiss the FBI head in an NBC News interview last year. Trump's reasons for firing Comey are considered key to a possible obstruction of justice investigation.

However, he tweeted last month that Comey's firing was not related to the investigation.

Rosenstein is a key figure in Mueller's probe into Russia's election interference. He appointed Mueller to the position last year after Comey's firing, and it's believed that he has the authority to fire the special counsel.

It has also been reported that Trump has considered firing Rosenstein, and the FBI official has told friends that he is prepared for his imminent dismissal.

--Updated at 7:57 p.m.