Rosenstein denies suggesting plot to remove Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been heavily criticised by Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has denied reports that he floated the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump as unfit for office.

The New York Times also claimed he suggested secretly recording the president to expose the chaos in the administration.

The Times cited several unnamed people, who described the episodes that came in the spring of 2017 after FBI director James Comey was fired.

Mr Rosenstein is a frequent target of Mr Trump’s attacks and the story could add to the uncertainty about his future at the Justice Department.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” Mr Rosenstein said.

“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.”

A person who was in the room when the comment was made, and provided a statement through the Justice Department, said Mr Rosenstein’s comment was “sarcastic” and that he “never discussed any intention of recording a conversation with the president”.

The newspaper reported that Mr Rosenstein, frustrated with the hiring process for a new FBI director, offered to wear a “wire” and secretly record the president when he visited the White House.

He also suggested that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and other officials who were interviewing to become the next FBI director could also perhaps record Mr Trump, the newspaper reported.

Mr McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said that his client had drafted memos to “memorialise significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions”.

Mr Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as a Justice Department special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

He chose Mr Mueller for the job one week after he laid the groundwork for the firing of Mr Comey by writing a memo that criticised Mr Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

The White House initially held up that memo as justification for Mr Comey’s firing, though Mr Trump has said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he made the move.

As deputy attorney general, Mr Rosenstein oversees Mr Mueller’s work and has made two public announcements of indictments brought by the special counsel — one against Russians accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts, the other against Russians accused of running a social media troll farm to sway public opinion.

On Friday, Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr tweeted the Times’s story and said: “Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump.”