Scorpions in a bottle: 60 Minutes shows a devouring McCabe-Rosenstein feud

Sometimes, things just all seem to come together. In his 60 Minutes interview, fired former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe threw a ton of shade on Justice Department operative Rod Rosenstein, effectively saying that yes, there was a Deep State coup attempt against President Trump, but Rosenstein Did It. It was all his fault.

In the absence of any smoking gun against President Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, that suggests President Trump's deep state opponents are now turning on each other.

I mentioned that a few days ago here, and it's even more obvious in Technicolor in the 60 Minutes report from this CBS transcript here:

Scott Pelley: Are you saying that the president is in league with the Russians?

Andrew McCabe: I'm saying that the FBI had reason to investigate that. Right, to investigate the existence of an investigation doesn't mean someone is guilty. I would say, Scott, if we failed to open an investigation under those circumstances, we wouldn't be doing our jobs.

Scott Pelley: When you decided to launch these two investigations, was the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, onboard with that.

Andrew McCabe: Absolutely.

Rod Rosenstein has spent 28 years at the Department of Justice. A Republican, he was appointed by President Trump as deputy attorney general, number two at the department. Mr. Trump's firing of James Comey on May 9, 2017 set off a week of crisis meetings between Rosenstein, who was in charge of the Russia investigation and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.  

Andrew McCabe: I can't describe to you accurately enough the pressure and the chaos that Rod and I were trying to operate under at that time. It was incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful. And it was clear to me that that stress was— was impacting the deputy attorney general. 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. 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." Now, he was not joking.  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.

Scott Pelley: The point of Rosenstein wearing the wire into a meeting with the president was what? What did he hope to obtain?

Andrew McCabe: I can't characterize what Rod was thinking or what he was hoping at that moment. But the reason you would have someone wear a concealed recording device would be to collect evidence and in this case, what was the true nature of the president's motivation in calling for the firing of Jim Comey?

The news show's chief interviewer, Scott Pelley, didn't zero in on that McCabe-Rosenstein feud angle as strongly as he should have. Pelley did broadcast Rosenstein's Justice Department's denial of the entire dual-point charge of both invoking the 25th Amendment regarding presidential removal for incapacitation as well as Rosenstein offering to wear a wire to get something on Trump, all of which pretty much evaded and begged the entire question about whether he was the one leading the coup. 

In response to our interview, the Justice Department gave us a carefully worded statement. It says McCabe's story is "inaccurate and factually incorrect." "The deputy attorney general never authorized any recording" [of the president.] "Nor was the deputy attorney general in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment."

Notice that the DoJ didn't precisely answer the question of whether Rosenstein offered to wear the wire, arguing that it didn't happen and wasn't authorized, and the DoJ also didn't directly deny that Rosenstein brought up the 25th Amendment, whether it was his job or not; he only said it wasn't his job.

None of those things directly answer what McCabe has brought up. But the DoJ reply does sound defensive. And if Rosenstein is on the defense, it means that McCabe is on the offense. 

Would the two deep-staters really be that much at each other's throats, given their shared loathing for President Trump?

I think yes.

Number one, McCabe's top political ally, fired former FBI director James Comey - the man he says left the bureau in mourning after that firing - was fired at the recommendation of Rosenstein. Last October, the Washington Post reported that the pair of them were indeed in a feud with each one wanting the other to recuse himself from the special counsel's probe:

Shortly after Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to investigate possible coordination between President Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, he was drawn into a tense standoff in which Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe each urged the other to step aside from the case, according to people familiar with the matter.

At the time of the confrontation in mid-May 2017, tensions were running high at the FBI and Justice Department, and between Rosenstein and McCabe. Trump had just fired James B. Comey as the bureau’s director, and almost immediately afterward, FBI officials had opened a case into whether the president had obstructed justice.

Some in the bureau eyed Rosenstein warily, because he had authored a memo that was used by the administration to justify Comey’s termination. If the president had obstructed justice, they reasoned, Rosenstein may have played a role in that. Justice Department officials, meanwhile, were concerned that the FBI — and McCabe in particular — may have acted too hastily to open an investigative file on the president after Comey was fired and that the move could be painted as an act of anger or revenge.

Aside from Rosenstein's role in the Comey firing, there also was McCabe's firing. While I can't find any evidence Rosenstein was behind it, was indeed done at the recommendation of the Justice Department, of which Rosenstein was a powerful official. Rosenstein, by the way, is still there, and McCabe is out.

So now we have the specter of McCabe saying there was a coup attempt against Trump, and he supported it because he was sure there was something to take Trump down for on the Russia front, yet the whole thing was Rosenstein's doing, not his.

Now he's trying to throw Rosenstein - a guy who got along very well with Trump's first Attorney General Jeff Sessions - under the bus as the coup plotter. 

Does this sound like an intensifying feud? I think so. And with both men dyed-in-the-wool "never-trumps," they're about as sympathetic as two scorpions in a bottle. I suspect Rosenstein is going to retaliate against McCabe for this. McCabe's statement that he had no idea what McCabe's Roenstein's motivation for the whole thing is probably worth watching for a counter-reply, given that at a minimum he'd have a pretty good idea, but he didn't want to tell Pelley. For those of us on the Trump side, we can only watch and get out the popcorn as the #never-trumps, unable to pin anything on Trump over Russia, turn to devouring one another. 

Image credit: Screen grab from CBS This Morning, via YouTube

Sometimes, things just all seem to come together. In his 60 Minutes interview, fired former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe threw a ton of shade on Justice Department operative Rod Rosenstein, effectively saying that yes, there was a Deep State coup attempt against President Trump, but Rosenstein Did It. It was all his fault.

In the absence of any smoking gun against President Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, that suggests President Trump's deep state opponents are now turning on each other.

I mentioned that a few days ago here, and it's even more obvious in Technicolor in the 60 Minutes report from this CBS transcript here:

Scott Pelley: Are you saying that the president is in league with the Russians?

Andrew McCabe: I'm saying that the FBI had reason to investigate that. Right, to investigate the existence of an investigation doesn't mean someone is guilty. I would say, Scott, if we failed to open an investigation under those circumstances, we wouldn't be doing our jobs.

Scott Pelley: When you decided to launch these two investigations, was the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, onboard with that.

Andrew McCabe: Absolutely.

Rod Rosenstein has spent 28 years at the Department of Justice. A Republican, he was appointed by President Trump as deputy attorney general, number two at the department. Mr. Trump's firing of James Comey on May 9, 2017 set off a week of crisis meetings between Rosenstein, who was in charge of the Russia investigation and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.  

Andrew McCabe: I can't describe to you accurately enough the pressure and the chaos that Rod and I were trying to operate under at that time. It was incredibly turbulent, incredibly stressful. And it was clear to me that that stress was— was impacting the deputy attorney general. 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. 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." Now, he was not joking.  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.

Scott Pelley: The point of Rosenstein wearing the wire into a meeting with the president was what? What did he hope to obtain?

Andrew McCabe: I can't characterize what Rod was thinking or what he was hoping at that moment. But the reason you would have someone wear a concealed recording device would be to collect evidence and in this case, what was the true nature of the president's motivation in calling for the firing of Jim Comey?

The news show's chief interviewer, Scott Pelley, didn't zero in on that McCabe-Rosenstein feud angle as strongly as he should have. Pelley did broadcast Rosenstein's Justice Department's denial of the entire dual-point charge of both invoking the 25th Amendment regarding presidential removal for incapacitation as well as Rosenstein offering to wear a wire to get something on Trump, all of which pretty much evaded and begged the entire question about whether he was the one leading the coup. 

In response to our interview, the Justice Department gave us a carefully worded statement. It says McCabe's story is "inaccurate and factually incorrect." "The deputy attorney general never authorized any recording" [of the president.] "Nor was the deputy attorney general in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment."

Notice that the DoJ didn't precisely answer the question of whether Rosenstein offered to wear the wire, arguing that it didn't happen and wasn't authorized, and the DoJ also didn't directly deny that Rosenstein brought up the 25th Amendment, whether it was his job or not; he only said it wasn't his job.

None of those things directly answer what McCabe has brought up. But the DoJ reply does sound defensive. And if Rosenstein is on the defense, it means that McCabe is on the offense. 

Would the two deep-staters really be that much at each other's throats, given their shared loathing for President Trump?

I think yes.

Number one, McCabe's top political ally, fired former FBI director James Comey - the man he says left the bureau in mourning after that firing - was fired at the recommendation of Rosenstein. Last October, the Washington Post reported that the pair of them were indeed in a feud with each one wanting the other to recuse himself from the special counsel's probe:

Shortly after Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to investigate possible coordination between President Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, he was drawn into a tense standoff in which Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe each urged the other to step aside from the case, according to people familiar with the matter.

At the time of the confrontation in mid-May 2017, tensions were running high at the FBI and Justice Department, and between Rosenstein and McCabe. Trump had just fired James B. Comey as the bureau’s director, and almost immediately afterward, FBI officials had opened a case into whether the president had obstructed justice.

Some in the bureau eyed Rosenstein warily, because he had authored a memo that was used by the administration to justify Comey’s termination. If the president had obstructed justice, they reasoned, Rosenstein may have played a role in that. Justice Department officials, meanwhile, were concerned that the FBI — and McCabe in particular — may have acted too hastily to open an investigative file on the president after Comey was fired and that the move could be painted as an act of anger or revenge.

Aside from Rosenstein's role in the Comey firing, there also was McCabe's firing. While I can't find any evidence Rosenstein was behind it, was indeed done at the recommendation of the Justice Department, of which Rosenstein was a powerful official. Rosenstein, by the way, is still there, and McCabe is out.

So now we have the specter of McCabe saying there was a coup attempt against Trump, and he supported it because he was sure there was something to take Trump down for on the Russia front, yet the whole thing was Rosenstein's doing, not his.

Now he's trying to throw Rosenstein - a guy who got along very well with Trump's first Attorney General Jeff Sessions - under the bus as the coup plotter. 

Does this sound like an intensifying feud? I think so. And with both men dyed-in-the-wool "never-trumps," they're about as sympathetic as two scorpions in a bottle. I suspect Rosenstein is going to retaliate against McCabe for this. McCabe's statement that he had no idea what McCabe's Roenstein's motivation for the whole thing is probably worth watching for a counter-reply, given that at a minimum he'd have a pretty good idea, but he didn't want to tell Pelley. For those of us on the Trump side, we can only watch and get out the popcorn as the #never-trumps, unable to pin anything on Trump over Russia, turn to devouring one another. 

Image credit: Screen grab from CBS This Morning, via YouTube