The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he intended to investigate whether top officials of the FBI and the Justice Department discussed “an administrative coup” to oust President Trump in 2017.
The chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he would issue subpoenas, if necessary, to sort out circumstances that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe described in a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday night.
In the interview, McCabe said Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein had raised the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump out of concern for his fitness for office after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
The amendment sets out a process for the Cabinet and Congress to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” At that point, the vice president becomes president.
Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Graham noted that Rosenstein, a career Justice Department prosecutor, had “vehemently denied” McCabe’s account of the discussion.
“We’re going to find out what happened here,” Graham said. “The only way I know to find out is to call the people in under oath and find out through questioning who’s telling the truth because the underlying accusation is beyond stunning.”
Graham said McCabe’s remarks amounted to “an allegation by the acting FBI director at the time that the deputy attorney general was basically trying to do an administrative coup.”
Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III after Trump fired Comey for what the president later said was “this Russia thing.” Rosenstein has said he plans to step down after Mueller files his report on his investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during or after the 2016 campaign, and other possible crimes.
On Friday, after excerpts from the “60 Minutes” interview were released, McCabe’s spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz, said “certain statements” made by McCabe had been “taken out of context and misrepresented.”
“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,” Schwartz said in a tweet.
McCabe has been promoting his book, “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.” In the book, McCabe does not mention discussing Trump and the 25th Amendment with Rosenstein.
Then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March 2018 following a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Sessions alleged that McCabe had “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media’” and, when questioned about it, “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
McCabe has denied speaking dishonestly and argues that he was fired for political reasons.