McCabe Tries to Play Bystander, Pin It All on Rosenstein

February 19, 2019 Updated: February 21, 2019


Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe went “all in” against current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during an interview with CBS News’s Scott Pelley on the network’s “60 Minutes” show on the night of Feb. 17.

During the interview, McCabe desperately attempted to sell Pelley and CBS’s audience on the idea that it was really Rosenstein who was doing all the talking about removing President Donald Trump using the 25th Amendment and wearing a wire to record him.

McCabe claimed he just wanted to do a good hard-nosed, old-fashioned investigation of the president for supposed collusion with Russia; it was Rosenstein who kept engaging in all this wild bugging and soft coup talk.

There are several problems with that narrative, however.

McCabe’s narrative makes Rosenstein a central player and main driver of the plot to remove Trump from office. I’ll get to why this is a big problem in a minute, but let’s establish that this is what McCabe is trying to accomplish.

McCabe first launched the “It was all Rosenstein, I was just an innocent bystander” narrative in September 2018, when details of his memos were leaked to The New York Times.

Here’s what The New York Times claimed—all based on anonymous sources—in its article in September:

“Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes in interviews over the past several months, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.

“None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of Homeland Security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.

“The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sitting in on Mr. Trump’s interviews with prospective F.B.I. directors and facing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time.”

Naturally, Rosenstein denied everything.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect … I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment,” Rosenstein said in a statement.

A Justice Department spokeswoman also provided a statement from a person who was present when Mr. Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire. The person, who would not be named, acknowledged the remark but said Mr. Rosenstein made it sarcastically.

McCabe has a track record of blaming others for his own bad behavior.

Recall what it was that got McCabe investigated by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office: illegal, self-serving leaks to the news media for which he blamed fellow FBI officials.

That led to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz recommending in his report to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that McCabe be fired from the FBI’s No. 2 job. Sessions then subsequently fired McCabe on March 17, 2017, exactly 26 hours before McCabe would’ve been eligible to retire and receive his full benefits and pension.

To hear McCabe tell it, he was almost a passive bystander throughout these conversations about bugging the president or invoking the 25th to remove him from office, not really contributing anything and just watching Rosenstein throw out his ideas.

McCabe is thus far the only source who’s publicly made these claims. And since he has a track record of blaming others for his own behavior, that must be taken into account.

Rosenstein didn’t step into the job of being Deputy Attorney General until April 25, 2017; that’s the biggest problem with the narrative that McCabe is trying to push.

What people don’t remember is that until he was nominated for the post of Deputy Attorney General by Trump on Feb. 1, 2017, and was confirmed by Congress to that office on April 25, 2017, Rosenstein wasn’t even inside the DOJ headquarters. Until that point, he was an outsider, last working as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

It would have taken Rosenstein several days to get settled into the new job, so he realistically didn’t have his feet under him until early May 2017, just in time to get involved in the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey on May 9.

If you’ve followed the Spygate timeline, that means Rosenstein wasn’t there for:

• The widespread abuse by the FBI of raw Section 702 data, including providing contractors access to Americans’ communications without oversight, that is until April 2016, when then-NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers sounded the alarm bell on the so-called “about” queries abuse.

• The launching of the FBI’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign (the evidence for which turned out to be coming from—I’m not making this up—the Hillary Clinton campaign).

• The creation of the FISA spy warrant application on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and the potential spying on other members of the campaign under the so-called ‘two-hop’ rule.

• The creation of that neat backchannel to Fusion GPS shortly before the 2016 election, so the FBI could still make use of political propaganda being fed to them by Fusion while pretending these were intelligence reports.

• The continued unmasking of the identities and communications of Trump transition-team members after the election by members of the Obama administration.

Do you know who was there for all of that? McCabe!

You’re being asked to believe that Rosenstein, a sharp, crack U.S. Attorney of high intelligence, stepped right into the middle of this Spygate mess in May 2017 and, learning just how big a paper trail these plotters had left behind them, instantly threw his lot in with them and was eager to become a member of the club. That’s absurd.

President Trump has been presented with numerous opportunities to criticize Rosenstein; instead, he’s often praised him.

Another problem with McCabe’s narrative is that time and again, when given an opportunity to rid himself of this supposedly troublesome Rosenstein, Trump instead embraced him.

When it was announced that the deputy attorney general would be flying with Trump on Air Force One for an important meeting last October, many assumed the ax was about to drop on Rosenstein, since McCabe had just started making his claims about Rosenstein offering to wear a wire and record the President.

Instead, on the conclusion of the flight, Trump emerged and gave the experienced federal prosecutor a big, hearty thumbs up!

And on Feb. 18—the day following CBS’s airing of the full McCabe interview—when was asked if Trump had any plans to remove Rosenstein, White House communications director Mercedes Schlapp said that:

“That’s a decision for Rod Rosenstein to make. The President has a good relationship with him.”

Apparently, Trump and his White House team are the only people in America who don’t know Rosenstein was once plotting to remove Trump from office. If the choice is between Rosenstein being a key Spygate plotter and Trump knowing something we don’t, I’m going with the second option.

Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Brian Cates
Brian Cates
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Telegram at