House Panel Seeks Documents on Rosenstein’s Trump Comments

(Bloomberg) -- The House Judiciary Committee backed a Republican effort to look into claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein considered secretly recording President Donald Trump and raised the possibility of ousting him.

The Democratic-led panel voted 22-0 Tuesday to advance a resolution for a vote by the full House that would request Justice Department and FBI memos that are said to describe internal discussions in 2017 to surreptitiously record Trump and invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

If approved by the House, the resolution would amount to a formal request for the records, to be delivered within 14 days.

Rosenstein has denied that he ever pursued or authorized recording the president, and Justice Department officials have presented the episode as a passing, sarcastic reference.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said in choosing not to oppose the resolution that it was a "very modest step towards obtaining the information that Congress deserves — and requires — in order to do its job."

‘Extraordinary Measures’

"In essence, this resolution seeks records relating to concerns expressed at the very highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI about President Trump’s allegedly illegal conduct, and his fitness for office," said Nadler. "It also seeks records about the extraordinary measures that these leaders may have contemplated in view of these concerns.

Nadler also said he hoped Republicans would support Democratic efforts to obtain the full report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and supporting materials.

The resolution on Rosenstein was introduced by the panel’s top Republican, Doug Collins of Georgia.

Collins said in prepared remarks before the committee’s vote that the resolution was seeking memos written by former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, "whose existence was confirmed during this committee’s transcribed interviews."

Two former FBI lawyers backed up the allegation in private testimony to Congress. Sally Moyer, who worked in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel, and former FBI General Counsel James Baker discussed the matter with House committees in October, according to transcripts of their testimony.

"According to public reports, these memos recount a proposal to surreptitiously record a duly elected president and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office," said Collins.

McCabe, who was fired from his FBI job, said last month during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes" that Rosenstein mentioned the idea of secretly recording interactions with Trump more than once in a meeting of Justice and FBI officials in spring 2017.

That meeting occurred months after Trump’s inauguration, and after Trump had just fired former FBI Director James Comey.

The 25th Amendment allows the vice president and members of the president’s Cabinet to remove a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Nadler said before the committee vote, "I certainly do not oppose efforts to learn more about whether, in fact, such discussions occurred and, if so, what prompted such alarm among Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. McCabe, as well as other FBI officials, that they would consider these unprecedented actions."

He said many of the questions raised by this resolution "are the same questions we hope Attorney General Barr will answer in the coming days."

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