According to transcripts released Tuesday, James Baker, former general counsel of the FBI, told Congress in 2018 that two members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet were openly considering the 25th Amendment as a means of removing the president from office, Business Insider reports. According to Baker, the information came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The transcripts became public after being released by Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Per the transcript, Baker shared the revelation when Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican, questioned him regarding reports that Rosenstein had floated the idea of the 25th Amendment personally at one point, even going as far as to suggest wearing a recording device to capture his conversations with Trump and bolster the case for the president’s unfitness for office.
Baker in his testimony struggled to recall the specifics of discussions about whether Rosenstein intended to wear a wire, but he did recall that conversations took place around the 25th Amendment.
“The 25th Amendment conversation, my understanding was that there was a conversation in which it was said, I believe by [Rosenstein], that there were — that there were two members of the cabinet who were willing to go down this road already,” he said.
In any case, Rosenstein would not personally have had the authority to invoke the 25th Amendment, a responsibility wielded only by Cabinet officials. But he did reportedly indicate that he felt two Cabinet members in particular might have been open to the idea at that time. He was, according to Baker’s testimony, referring to two individuals who are no longer part of the administration: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
When the story broke originally, it dominated headlines and put Rosenstein squarely in the center of the controversy.
In response, a source indicated that Rosenstein was joking when he talked about the 25th Amendment in general and the wearing of a wire in particular. While a number of sources characterized the meeting differently or supported the notion of the statements being made in jest, Rosenstein at the time completely denied participating in any such talk.
Even so, it was generally understood that he would plan on leaving the Justice Department after the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, which concluded last month. For now, it appears that Rosenstein intends to remain indefinitely at the Justice Department.