Over at UncoverDC I have article posted from earlier today about Rod Rosenstein’s testimony two days ago before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and an “story” yesterday by Benjamin Wittes at Lawfareblog concerning that testimony. Wittes focused on the disputes between Andy McCabe’s version of events on two significant issues, and the answers given by Rosenstein to questions during the hearing on those two matters.
There was some material I came across in writing that story that I only included slightly, or didn’t elaborate on simply because I was trying to finish the piece and get it published. Then after reading it, and looking a bit more at some of the historical background I had examined earlier, I was struck by how McCabe’s obvious lies – which Wittes peddles like they come were etched in stone at the Burning Bush – spawned intense media interest and non-stop stories around the time of his 60 Minutes interview in February 2019.
But any small amount of digging by reporters would have revealed how specious McCabe’s claims were. We now have the benefit of hindsight to fact-check McCabe’s tales and conclude they were obviously untrue when he made them – notwithstanding Wittes continuing to publish McCabe’s fiction – but the evidence of the falsehoods was right in front of the media at the time. They ignored it because accepting McCabe’s claims at face value let them run rabidly anti-Trump stories for 4 days.
Let me set this up a bit so the readers can keep the context in mind when these “discussions” supposedly took place, then we’ll take a wrecking ball to McCabe – be patient (no skipping to the end).
Andy McCabe became Associate Director and Deputy Director of the FBI – the No. 3 and No. 2 positions in the Bureau – after James Comey because Director. That doesn’t happen unless Comey hand-picked McCabe from the field of available candidates.
A week after Rod Rosenstein was confirmed as Deputy Attorney General, he sat in a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump, and told President Trump he needed to fire Jim Comey. President Tump told Session and Rosenstein to put their recommendation and reasons in writing and send it to him. On May 7, 2017, Trump fired Comey.
The firing shook DC – and the FBI – and no person more so than Andy McCabe. Comey was his patron. Comey pulled him along to the No. 2 position. McCabe had come under national media scrutiny over the issues of his wife’s failed political campaign as a Democrat, and her connections to Clinton long-time close confidant Terry McAuliffe. With Comey gone, now McCabe was exposed.
And Rosenstein was to blame for it all.
How can McCabe see it otherwise unless he agreed with Rosenstein’s views about Comey – and that seems “unlikely.”
Next we have a 9 day period when Washington was consumed by the post-Comey firing firestorm and allegations of coverup regarding the Trump-Russia collusion that stole the election from Hillary Clinton. On the 10th day Rod Rosenstein made a sudden announcement that Robert Mueller, former FBI Director under Bush 43 and Obama, had agreed to take over the Trump-Russia investigation as “Special Counsel”.
McCabe told 60 Minutes that he met with Pres. Trump the day Comey was fired, and when he returned to the FBI he met with his senior executives and instructed them to look at everything related to the Trump-Russia investigation so that it would be on “solid” ground in case he was “removed quickly, or reassigned or fired.” Clearly McCabe was concerned about what Rosenstein might do to him next. This resulted in a criminal investigation of Trump being opened at McCabe’s direction.
McCabe’s stories about the 25th Amendment and the “wear a wire” offer do not specify dates when these meetings took place – at least not that I have found. The 25th Amendment claim is not even included in his book. The “wear a wire” claim is very prominent in his book, and both were featured during his 60 Minutes interview. He says the issue of wearing a wire was made “several times” by Rosenstein in their many conversations during the 9 days between Comey’s firing and the naming of Mueller as a Special Counsel.
So why is it obvious to me that both are McCabe fabrications?
First, the 25th Amendment issue ran out of control so quickly that McCabee’s own people had to “walk back” the story with a “clarification” after the press had taken interview answers given by McCabe about his book and run off “full cocked” with the story. Remember that the 60 Minutes interview, which aired on Sunday night, February 17, 2019, was “teased” with a story and a clip on CBS This Morning on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Both the 25th Amendment issue and the “wear a wire” issue were part of the “teaser” used on Thursday for the Sunday night show.
The story ran out of control so fast that McCabe’s “spokesperson”, Melissa Schwartz, issued a statement that included some very precise language which the press naturally ignored because it undercut the story and narrative they had built.
“Certain statements made by Mr. McCabe, in interviews associated with the release of his book, have been taken out of context and misrepresented. 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 any such discussions. He was present and participated in a discussion that included a comment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein regarding the 25th Amendment…. Mr. McCabe has merely confirmed a discussion that was initially reported elsewhere.”
McCabe admits answering questions which he claims were mischaracterized. He says in the statement it was “a comment” – singular – and came in “a discussion” – again singular.
How was it portrayed by the press? How was it allowed to be portrayed by McCabe without comment other than this “clarification”??
CNBC – “Justice Department officials discussed if Trump could be removed as president via 25th Amendment”
NYT – “Rod Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment
CNN – “Andrew McCabe says Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raised high-level discussions at the Justice Department about … invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump.”
USAToday – “FBI official McCabe says Justice Department considered asking Cabinet to remove Trump”
From the 60 Minutes broadcast:
Pelley: “Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?”
McCabe: “That’s correct. Counting votes or possible votes.”
That’s a long ways from “a comment” in “a discussion” “regarding” the 25 Amendment – according to McCabe’s spokesperson — that McCabe says he was not involved in, and “discussions” he has no knowledge of.
But hey, let the brush fire burn – it might become a forest fire if they’re lucky.
McCabe knew the reporting wasn’t true – he kept his mouth shut anyway. Rosenstein had fired Comey. And a little less than a year before his 60 Minutes “Coming Out”, Rosenstein had played a role in McCabe’s firing. McCabe was just returning the favor.
The second issue is the “wear a wire” offer. And this one is basically “laugh out loud” stupid.
On May 16 – 9 days after Comey was fired – McCabe and Lisa Page were DOJ in a SCIF meeting with Rosenstein and four senior career DOJ prosecutors who were familiar with the Russia investigation. It’s likely that McCabe didn’t realize the real purpose of the meeting until he was there. Earlier that day Rosenstein had been at the White House Counsel’s Office with Robert Mueller talking about filling the post of FBI Director. There’s a dispute over whether Mueller was or was not considered for the position, but that’s irrelevant for this issue. What is relevant is that Rosenstein and Mueller had been together, and that Rosenstein had certainly obtained Mueller’s agreement to serve as Special Counsel during their meeting because Mueller was announced as Special Counsel the next day, May 17.
So when McCabe and NatSecLisa arrive at DOJ and find themselves in a meeting with Rosenstein and four of his senior Deputies who are asking for a complete readout on the status of the Russia investigation, McCabe an NatSecLisa had to realize something was up.
In the aftermath of the 60 Minutes “tease” on the “wear a wire” claim, on Friday February 15, 2019, DOJ pushed back aggressively against the stories revolving around McCabe’s claims. NBC News, in a story bylined to Pete Williams, issued a specific timeline and details regarding the meeting in question attributed to a “Senior DOJ Official”. That Official stated that the meeting involved “arguing” between McCabe and Rosenstein about Pres. Trump. Both the Senior Official and another “source in the room” said the comment by Rosenstein about wearing a wire was “sarcastic”.
Consider the “logic” of McCabe’s version again:
On the afternoon of March 16, after having been with Mueller at the White House earlier in the day, and agreeing with Mueller that he would be announced the following day as the Special Counsel to take over the Russia investigation, Rosenstein then meets with McCabe, NatSecLisa, and four of Rosenstein’s senior most aides, and discusses methods by which they might be able to gather evidence directly from Pres. Trump. In this May 16 meeting Rosenstein suggests to the group that he might wear a wire to a meeting in the Oval Office, and during the course of the discussion with the President he might get him to say something incriminating about his having fired Comey – something that would advance the “obstruction” investigation opened by McCabe. And Rosenstein is suggesting this in an investigation that he has already arranged to be handed over to a Special Counsel the next day????
Or does this sound more likely given the participants and the circumstances:
Rosenstein summons McCabe and Page to an afternoon meeting at DOJ, and when they arrive they find they are meeting with Rosenstein and four senior aides who are asking for an update on the status of the Russia matter. Rosenstein is the guy who 9 days earlier had recommended Comey’s firing, and now he wants to know everything about the investigation that led to Comey’s firing – according to Lester Holt. McCabe and Rosenstein argue about what steps might be taken to target Pres. Trump in order to get him to make incriminating statements about his motives for firing Comey. In response to McCage’s increasing anger and belligerence Rosenstein says to McCabe – “What do you want me to do Andy, wear a wire the next time I go to the White House because they never search me?”
At some point, it dawned on McCabe – if Rosenstein didn’t tell him outright – that Rosenstein was going to appoint a Special Counsel, the Special Counsel would take over the entire matter. McCabe and NatSecLisa would be sitting on their hands not knowing if what they had worked on for the past 9 months to get rid of Trump would get flushed down the toilet. Rosenstein had fired Comey, and now he was taking the investigation away from him – McCabe – and appointing a lifelong Republican former head of the FBI to take over.
That’s the world that exists inside Andy McCabe’s head. He’s told too many lies to ever be able to now keep track of the truth.
Where was the press skepticism about this liar and such an absurd story given the easily parsed out circumstances???
In the tank. And they still hold him up like he’s got an ounce of credibility left.