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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 TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE linked firing FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyShowtime developing limited series about Jan. 6 Capitol riot Wray says FBI not systemically racist John Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges MORE to the Russia investigation in a conversation he had with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinProtect the police or the First Amendment? Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office 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 ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' 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 SessionsGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings 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.