Former FBI lawyer: Plot to record, remove Trump not a joke

Former FBI lawyer: Plot to record, remove Trump not a joke

By John Solomon

(The Hill) Don’t tell former FBI general counsel James Baker that those now-infamous discussions about secretly recording President Donald Trump and using the tapes to remove him from office were a joke.

He apparently doesn’t believe it. And he held quite the vantage point — he was on the inside of the bureau’s leadership in May 2017, when the discussions occurred.

Baker told Congress last week that his boss — then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe — was dead serious about the idea of surreptitiously recording the 45th president and using the evidence to make the case that Trump should be removed from office, according to my sources.

Baker told lawmakers he wasn’t in the meeting that McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in which the subject came up. But he did have firsthand conversations with McCabe and the FBI lawyer assigned to McCabe, Lisa Page, about the issue.

“As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed,” said a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation. “It was no laughing matter for the FBI.”

Word of Baker’s testimony surfaces just days before Rosenstein is set to be interviewed in private on Thursday by House Judiciary Committee lawmakers.

Since The New York Times first reported the allegations, Rosenstein, the No. 2 Department of Justice (DOJ) official, has tried to downplay his role in them. His office has suggested that he thought the discussions were a joke, that Rosenstein never gave an order to carry out such a plot, and that he does not believe Trump should be removed from office.

But making those statements through a spokesperson is a bit different than having Rosenstein himself face Congress and answer the questions under penalty of felony if lawmakers think he is lying.

Baker’s account to lawmakers this month clearly complicates an already complicated picture for Rosenstein before Congress, assuming he shows up for Thursday’s interview.

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