Top US officials considered removing Trump using 25th amendment, FBI lawyers confirm

Tim Wyatt

An explosive claim that senior officials at the FBI and Justice Department discussed forcing Donald Trump out of office has been backed by two more witnesses in secret Congressional hearings.

Former acting head of the FBI Andrew McCabe revealed earlier this week there had been conversations at the top echelons of the government about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump after he fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

Mr McCabe told CBS News officials at the Justice Department had held meetings where they discussed how they might recruit the vice-president and a majority of Cabinet ministers into voting to force Mr Trump to quit.

Now, several US media outlets have reported at least two FBI lawyers have confirmed this account during private testimony before a Congressional committee.

James Baker, who worked as the FBI’s most senior lawyer during the Comey episode, reportedly told the oversight and judiciary committees during behind-closed-doors questioning in October he had been told at the time about the plans to depose Mr Trump.

Another lawyer who worked at the FBI, Sally Moyer, has also confirmed at private hearings she was in meetings when the topic was discussed, according to Bloomberg.

Section four of the amendment allows the removal of a sitting US president if the vice-president and a majority of the Cabinet declare them “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who was allegedly leading the conversations about the 25th Amendment, has denied he ever tried to organise Cabinet officials to invoke the provision.

He also denied claims he suggested he could wear a wire to record potentially incriminating meetings with Mr Trump.

“As the deputy attorney general previously has stated, based on his personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was [Mr Rosenstein] in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment,” a statement from the Justice Department said.

However, both Mr Baker and Ms Moyer reportedly gave evidence to the Congressional committees they were told at the time about Mr Rosenstein’s wire proposal.

“I took it seriously, because my assessment was they took it seriously,” Mr Baker said, according to a transcript of his evidence reviewed by Bloomberg.

“This was not a joking sort of time. This was pretty dark.

“What I recall being said is that the deputy attorney general has two members of the Cabinet… [who] were willing to go down this road already.”

Mr Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has previously dismissed the 25th Amendment claims by attacking Mr McCabe as a “total disgrace” who was fired because of his “selfish and destructive agenda” in opening a “completely baseless investigation into the president”.