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
© Getty

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAndrew McCabe's settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham Trump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE reportedly claimed in a memo he wrote last year that President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE linked firing FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHow Biden should sell his infrastructure bill 'Finally, infrastructure week!': White House celebrates T bill Huma Abedin on bid for political office: 'I'm not saying no to anything' MORE to the Russia investigation in a conversation he had with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble 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) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE, according to the Times.

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

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary 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.