Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reveals what he says prompted Rod Rosenstein to suggest wearing a wire to record Trump

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

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Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
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CBS News/60 Minutes

  • Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, has described the conversation during which he said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein first offered to secretly record President Donald Trump in the White House.
  • In a Sunday-night airing of “60 Minutes,” McCabe described what he said was an “incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful” period after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
  • “I can’t describe to you accurately enough the pressure and the chaos that Rod and I were trying to operate under at that time,” McCabe said.
  • It was during that time, according to McCabe, that Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump, ostensibly to collect evidence that could reveal the president’s motivations for firing Comey, who had been leading the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, has described in the most detail yet a conversation during which he said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein first offered to secretly record President Donald Trump in the White House.

In a Sunday-night airing of “60 Minutes,” McCabe described what he said was an “incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful” period after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

“I can’t describe to you accurately enough the pressure and the chaos that Rod and I were trying to operate under at that time,” McCabe said. “It was clear to me that that stress was impacting the deputy attorney general.”

McCabe said he and Rosenstein had talked about “why the president had insisted on firing the director,” Comey, “and whether or not he was thinking about the Russia investigation, and did that impact his decision.”

“And in the context of that conversation, the deputy attorney general offered to wear a wire into the White House,” McCabe said.

McCabe continued, describing what he said was Rosenstein’s argument for wearing a wire in Trump’s presence. “He said: ‘I never get searched when I go into the White House – I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn’t know it was there.'”

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The New York Times first reported in September that Rosenstein had offered to wear a wire in the White House. That news prompted rumblings around Washington that Trump might fire Rosenstein, who began overseeing the FBI’s Russia investigation after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, but the president did not. He told reporters at the time that he and Rosenstein “actually have a very good relationship” and said “I get along very well with him.”

US officials argued that Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire but was joking. In Sunday’s interview, McCabe disputed that characterization.

“He was not joking – he was absolutely serious,” McCabe said. “And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had.”

McCabe said he “never actually considered taking Rosenstein up on the offer” but had discussed the deputy attorney general’s idea with the FBI’s general counsel and the leadership team there when Rosenstein brought it up.

McCabe declined to speculate about why Rosenstein would suggest wearing a wire inside the White House, but he said the implication was clear.

“The reason you would have someone wear a concealed recording device would be to collect evidence,” McCabe said. “In this case, what was the true nature of the president’s motivation in calling for the firing of Jim Comey?”

For his part, Trump left little ambiguity about his intentions, telling the NBC News anchor Lester Holt in 2017 that he had fired Comey, in part, because of “this Russia thing” and that he would have fired Comey no matter what Rosenstein had advised.

McCabe said the FBI general counsel had a negative reaction to the idea of Rosenstein secretly recording Trump, figuratively describing him as having a “heart attack.”

According to McCabe, the FBI general counsel said: “That’s a bridge too far. We’re not there yet.”