Editor’s Note: This report has been updated to reflect Andrew McCabe’s statement Friday that claimed his comments were taken out of context regarding his participation in and awareness of any 25th Amendment-related discussions at the Justice Department after President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley told CBS This Morning on Thursday that Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, has claimed that there were meetings in the Justice Department following James Comey’s firing in which officials discussed whether it was possible to remove Donald Trump from the presidency using the 25th Amendment.
McCabe was said to have made the admission during an interview with 60 Minutes. He was named acting director of the bureau after Trump fired James Comey in May 2017, and is currently promoting his new book, The Threat.
McCabe would be the first person who was involved in the purported meeting to claim that it happened on record—Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, previously denied a report from The New York Times that he discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment.
However, on Friday, a spokesman for McCabe said his comments were “taken out of context and misinterpreted.” “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 such discussions.” The statement acknowledged that McCabe “was present and participated in a discussion that included a comment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein regarding the 25th Amendment,” but noted that he “merely confirmed a discussion that was already reported elsewhere.”
Pelley recounted his interview with McCabe on Thursday morning: “There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment.
“These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. The highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.”
Pelley went on to say: “McCabe is the very first person involved in these meetings who has come out and spoken publicly... They were counting noses, not asking Cabinet members whether they would vote for or against removing the president. But they were speculating ‘this person would be with us, that person would not be.’”
He added: “This was not perceived to be a joke.”
In a statement responding to McCabe, the Justice Department said that version of events as “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” saying there is “no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.”
Also, according to Guardian reporter Jon Swaine, McCabe’s book doesn’t mention the meeting where invoking the 25th Amendment was discussed, saying: “In fact, May 16 2017, the day ... it took place, is skipped over entirely.”
The New York Times, however, reports that it has seen an excerpt from a memo written by McCabe at the time, which stated “we discussed the president’s capacity and the possibility he could be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.”
Later in the CBS This Morning segment, Pelley also revealed that McCabe confirms in their 60 Minutes interview that Rosenstein seriously considered wearing a wire in meetings with Trump.
Rosenstein previously said that the suggestion was made sarcastically but McCabe reportedly denies that, with Pelley saying on Thursday morning: “McCabe in interview says no, it came up more than once and it was so serious that he took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it.”
CBS News reports McCabe also explained his logic of opening up probes against Trump following Comey’s firing. McCabe says he began obstruction-of-justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the president and his ties to Russia in an effort to prevent the Russia probe from being erased from history after Comey’s departure.
“I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency, and won the election of the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage, and that was something that troubled me greatly,” McCabe told 60 Minutes of his first meeting with Trump after the FBI director’s firing.
“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,” said the former deputy director of the FBI.
The Atlantic published an adapted excerpt from McCabe’s book Thursday in which he details some of the private discussions he had with Trump. One eye-opening passage reveals that Trump called his wife, who had run unsuccessfully for the Virginia state senate in 2015, “a loser.”
“He said, How is your wife? I said, She’s fine. He said, When she lost her election, that must have been very tough to lose. How did she handle losing? Is it tough to lose? I replied, I guess it’s tough to lose anything. But she’s rededicated herself to her career and her job and taking care of kids in the emergency room. That’s what she does.”
He went on: “He replied in a tone that sounded like a sneer. He said, ‘Yeah, that must’ve been really tough. To lose. To be a loser.’”
The full interview with McCabe will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday.