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Former FBI Lawyer: Wire-Wearing, 25th Amendment Were Part of a ‘List’ of Possible Responses to Comey’s Firing


House Republicans have released a transcript from the second day of former FBI General Counsel James Baker‘s testimony about conversations between outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and fired FBI lawyer Lisa Page about possibly wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. The conversations are said to have happened in the immediate aftermath of then-FBI Director James Comey‘s firing.

Baker, who is under criminal investigation for media leaks, told House Judiciary Committee Republicans on the first day of October 2018 testimony that he did not think the 25th Amendment or wire-wearing conversation was a joke. On day two of that testimony, he revealed that, actually, these were just one or two on a “list” of options. He also confirmed that the conversations happened after Comey was fired but before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein as Special Counsel.

Up to now, Rosenstein has dismissed the wire-wearing talk as a joke. On the 25th Amendment matter, Rosenstein said through a Department of Justice spokesperson that, “based on his personal dealings with the President, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the DAG in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) asked Baker to “bring [him] inside the room with these conversations” and “characterize […] the attitude of either Lisa Page or Andy McCabe.”

“Were they excited, were they concerned, were they talking about whether this would be done or not? Help me understand what was going on in those conversations,” Meadows said.

Baker didn’t say things were glib at the FBI.

“So, obviously, it was a very stressful time to begin with, right,” he said. “Because the Director had just been fired, and so that was number one. And then we were trying to figure out, okay, what do we do, how do we run the organization, what steps need to be taken and soon.”

“It was a very, very challenging and stressful and tumultuous time,” he added. “And then there are these — some number of conversations with the Deputy Attorney General about what to do next, what needs to be done, and my recollection is numerous topics were discussed, and these [wire/25th Amendment] were among them.”

“The wearing the wire and the 25th Amendment were one of a list, one or two of a list of things that we were going — that people were going through to try to figure out what to do,” Baker continued. “My recollection is that I think, at least with Andy McCabe, that’s what I’m remembering more clearly, I think he was sort of — he was list — he was sort of going through and summarizing the conversation that he’d had with the DAG and mentioned this with the wearing the wire, and I guess I would say he was sort of stunned, surprised, didn’t know how to really react to that kind of a suggestion. It seemed extremely unusual, obviously. So it was surprised, stunned.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) chimed in to ask where the conversation went next.

“So then what happened? You just dropped it, like, okay, no big deal?” Jordan asked.

“We decided that it was–my recollection is that the discussion was that this was an idea that did not make any sense from an investigative or operational perspective and really shouldn’t be pursued further. That’s my recollection,” Baker responded.

As Law&Crime reported Tuesday, Baker was pretty clear about the fact that he didn’t think people were joking, and said two cabinet members were “willing to go down this road.”

Jordan: Was there anything talked about the 25th Amendment issue?

Baker: Yes.

Jordan: So both [the 25th and the comment about wearing a wire].

Baker: Yes.

Jordan: So both. And you took their conversation as completely serious that Mr. Rosenstein was serious about wearing a wire and recording the President for both of those reasons?

Baker: No, no. I didn’t connect the 25th Amendment thing to the wire. Maybe it was my mistake mentally. I connected that more to the obstruction matter. The 25th Amendment conversation, my understanding was that there was a conversation in which it was said I believe by the DAG that there were — that there were two members of the cabinet who were willing to go down this road already.

Baker also said he was under the impression that Rosentein was “upset,” and that this was “not a joking sort of time” but a “pretty dark” one.

James Baker’s second day of testimony by Law&Crime on Scribd

[Image via Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.