Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, said he tried to ensure his agency's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was on "absolutely solid ground" just in case he was ousted from his position, an assertion he outlined in a new interview.
"I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion," McCabe said in a clip of the interview that aired Thursday morning. "That were I removed quickly, or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace."
Within hours of McCabe’s interview airing on CBS This Morning, the president called him “a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey.” McCabe was named acting director after Comey’s departure. He was eventually fired in March of 2018 by then-attorney general Jeff Sessions.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for McCabe said that – in his interview with CBS News – McCabe "confirmed" that he "was present and participated in a discussion that included a comment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein regarding" the use of the 25th Amendment to oust Trump from office in the wake of James Comey's dismissal from the FBI.
But the discussion was not an "extended" one, and McCabe is not aware of any other such discussions, McCabe's representative said in a statement. The one anecdote is not included in McCabe's upcoming book, and in his interview with CBS News, McCabe "merely confirmed a discussion that was initially reported elsewhere," the representative added.
McCabe’s suggestion that Justice Department officials discussed a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment was previously reported by ABC News and other news outlets last year and was attributed to anonymous sources.
According to CBS News' Scott Pelley, during his interview with McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI also made reference to another previously reported detail of those May 2017 meetings – that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire during discussions with President Trump.
At the time, Rosenstein responded to those reports by claiming he “never pursued or authorized recording the president,” and denied advocating a plan to remove Trump from office. Sources told ABC News that many people in the room recalled Rosenstein raising the prospect of wearing a wire to a discussion with the president.
But Pelley said Thursday that McCabe indicated he thought Rosenstein’s wire overtures were serious.
“This was not perceived to be a joke,” Pelley said. “McCabe in our 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.”
The Justice Department said Thursday that “McCabe’s recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect.”
“The Deputy Attorney General never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references. As the Deputy Attorney General previously has stated, based on his personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment,” The Justice Department statement read.
McCabe is publishing a book next week called "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."
ABC News' Pierre Thomas, Mike Levine and Jonathan Karl contributed reporting.