Donald Trump has accused his own deputy attorney general of breaking the law in a series of early morning tweets railing against current and former law enforcement officials.
Mr Trump lashed out on Twitter at former FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose new book details his concerns about potential foreign influence over the president, and current deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who initiated special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe,” Mr Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.”
In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Mr McCabe described Mr Rosenstein as having raised the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Mr Trump from office.
Mr Trump said: “This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”
The US president’s outburst comes after Mr McCabe, who was fired last year the day before his scheduled retirement, said last week Mr Rosenstein offered in May 2017 to secretly record himself in conversation with Mr Trump following the president’s firing of then-FBI director James Comey.
In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday, Mr McCabe said a “crime may have been committed” when President Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
McCabe also said the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Mr Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the firing.
“And the idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, “Why would a president of the United States do that?” Mr McCabe said.
He added: “So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?”
Asked whether Mr Rosenstein was onboard with the obstruction and counterintelligence investigations, Mr McCabe replied, “Absolutely.”
Mr McCabe also revealed that when Mr Trump told Mr Rosenstein to put in writing his concerns with Mr Comey — a document the White House initially held up as justification for his firing — the president explicitly asked the Justice Department official to reference Russia in the memo.
Mr Rosenstein did not want to, Mr McCabe said, and the memo that was made public upon Mr Comey’s dismissal did not mention Russia and focused instead on Mr Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation.
“He explained to the president that he did not need Russia in his memo,” Mr McCabe said. “And the president responded, ‘I understand that, I am asking you to put Russia in the memo anyway.’”