Did Rod Rosenstein Wear a Wire Into the White House? Andrew McCabe Says Deputy AG 'Was Absolutely Serious'

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee with the other heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 11, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Getty Images

Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, in an interview on CBS News's 60 Minutes, said that former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was "absolutely serious" when he offered to wear a wire to record President Donald Trump.

In the interview that aired Sunday night, McCabe described to correspondent Scott Pelley the chaos in the top echelons of the Justice Department that followed Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

"We talked about why the president had insisted on firing the director and whether or not he was thinking about the Russia investigation and did that impact his decision," said McCabe, referring to the FBI inquiry into allegations that Trump's campaign had conspired with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

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

When The New York Times first reported in September 2018 Rosenstein's suggestion that he secretly record the president, the deputy attorney general in a statement said that he had been joking when he made the remark.

"He was not joking," insisted McCabe in Sunday's interview. "He was absolutely serious. And in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had. I never actually considered taking him up on the offer. I did discuss it with my general counsel and my leadership team back at the FBI after he brought it up the first time."

McCabe told Pelley that the FBI's general counsel "had a heart attack" when the notion of taping the president was raised. "And when he got up off the floor, he said, That's a bridge too far. We're not there yet.'"

He said that Rosenstein then raised the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, under which the vice president and Cabinet can remove a president deemed incapable of performing the duties of the office.

"Discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply, Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other Cabinet officials might support such an effort," said McCabe.

In his statement last year, Rosenstein said there was "no basis" for the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

McCabe was fired as acting FBI director in March 2018, months short of his retirement. An internal investigation found that he had lied about his contact with journalists.

The president had accused McCabe and other former top FBI and Justice Department officials of orchestrating a partisan "witch hunt" against him and his administration.

Rosenstein is set to step aside when Attorney General William Barr, who was recently confirmed by the Senate, takes office.

This article was updated to clarify the response of the FBI general counsel.