Donald Trump’s sacking of James Comey so concerned Justice Department officials they considered an extraordinary attempt to remove the president from office, former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe has reportedly revealed.
Mr McCabe, who was fired himself by the Trump administration just a day before his scheduled retirement last year, also told CBS News he ordered an investigation into whether the US president had obstructed justice by dismissing Mr Comey.
His revelations came in an interview with broadcaster Scott Pelley for 60 Minutes, which will be aired in full on Sunday.
Ahead of its broadcast, Mr Pelley told CBS News how Mr McCabe described meetings at the Justice Department in which “it was discussed whether the vice-president and a majority in the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th amendment”.
Section four of the amendment allows the removal of a sitting US president if the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet declare them “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
Mr Pelley said Cabinet members were not consulted, but instead Justice Department officials were speculating as to who may support enacting the clause.
Mr McCabe also claimed, according to Mr Pelley, that after the firing of Mr Comey deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire into the White House to record potentially incriminating conversations with the president.
Mr Rosenstein’s wire suggestion and the presidential removal discussions have both previously been reported, but this is the first time someone involved in both discussions has gone public.
In a portion of the interview aired today, Mr McCabe said he ordered the obstruction probe into Mr Trump in order to ensure the ongoing inquiries into Russian election meddling.
"I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground and if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they made that decision," he said.
Mr McCabe said the day after Mr Comey’s dismissal, and following a meeting with Mr Trump in the Oval Office, that he met a team investigating Russia “and I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward”.
"I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that, were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace,” he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “Andrew McCabe was fired in total disgrace from the FBI because he lied to investigators on multiple occasions, including under oath.
"His selfish and destructive agenda drove him to open a completely baseless investigation into the president. His actions were so shameful that he was referred to federal prosecutors.
"Andrew McCabe has no credibility and is an embarrassment to the men and women of the FBI and our great country.”
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