Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Last week, on a rainy and bitterly cold night in Washington, D.C., a senior Trump administration official at the Justice Department, Stephen Boyd, trudged to a Capitol Hill bar to meet with a powerful Democrat’s top investigator.
The meeting, described to ABC News by a Justice Department official, came after a dramatic showdown days earlier between the Justice Department and House Democrats – a dispute allegedly supercharged by a leak from inside the attorney general's office.
"He has the worst job in Washington," another Trump appointee recently said of Boyd, who as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legislative Affairs acts as the Justice Department's go-between to Congress.
Less than 24 hours before then-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee, Democrats prepared a subpoena that could be delivered on live TV if he didn't offer details about private conversations with the president.
In a rapid exchange of letters, Boyd accused Democrats of trying to create "a spectacle" and insisted Whitaker wouldn't show up unless they ruled out, in writing, a subpoena the next day. But the committee's chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., only offered a vague response.
They were at an impasse – until Boyd picked up the phone and made a promise to Nadler's aide: If Nadler penned a letter vowing no imminent subpoena, then the letter would not be made public. In essence, Boyd's promise meant Nadler could avoid even undeserved criticism that he caved to Whitaker's demands, and the much-anticipated hearing could go on as planned, according to the Justice Department official, who does not work in Boyd’s office but was told of the internal discussion.
Based on Boyd's assurance, Nadler privately sent a new letter to Whitaker, clearly stating, "[T]here is no need to issue a subpoena tomorrow."
The letter, however, was soon posted online by Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, the committee’s top Republican. Collins later mocked the committee chairman's "full-blown cave.”
Nadler's office was blindsided.
And after Whitaker dodged several questions at the hearing the next day, Boyd asked the Democratic investigator to meet face-to-face, hoping to salvage their working relationship. At the Capitol Hill bar, Boyd relayed a surprising discovery: One of Whitaker's own senior aides forwarded Nadler's private letter to Collins' office, behind Boyd’s back.
That's how the letter became public, the Justice Department official told ABC News.
In some ways, Boyd's meeting at the bar reflects a time when Republicans and Democrats regularly mingled – and found compromise – away from the office. But the circumstances behind the meeting also underscore how distant those days have become.
Nearly two years ago, as Boyd was preparing to take over the Office of Legislative Affairs, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, warned him how treacherous his job would be.
"Mr. Boyd, you're about to run into a buzz saw. You do know this, don't you?" Graham asked during Boyd's Senate confirmation hearing in May 2017.
"That's what I'm told," Boyd responded.
Since being confirmed, Boyd has been at the center of some of the Trump era's most contentious political battles, under pressure not only from Democrats but also fellow Republicans and – as recently illustrated – some of his own Justice Department colleagues.
"Every day is a four-alarm fire," according to Ron Weich, who held Boyd's post at the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
Boyd is on "the front line of the struggle" between two branches of government, and he "needs to protect the [Justice] Department from legislative interference, but also needs to smooth the way for legitimate congressional oversight," Weich said.
Graham – the one who warned Boyd about running into a buzz saw – is now the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and one of his self-professed priorities is to "hold accountable" anyone who exhibited "blatant political bias" during the FBI's investigation of possible ties between Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives.
That federal probe has dogged Boyd for the past two years, with Republican House members threatening to hold Boyd's bosses in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over classified documents or secret information about human sources used during the FBI's investigation.
In letters to those lawmakers, Boyd insisted they were seeking information so sensitive that it was stored only at the FBI, not even in secure rooms at the Justice Department designed to protect classified information.
Conservatives jumped on Boyd – a solid conservative himself – claiming Boyd's response wreaked of "arrogance," as then-congressman Dave Brat, R-Va., put it.
"Stephen Boyd is ... as much responsible for the slow-walking as anybody else," bemoaned Fox News Channel's senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitano.
Meanwhile, Boyd has also frustrated some Democrats for what they see as his lack of responsiveness.
But people on both sides of the aisle still describe Boyd as a positive, smart force inside the Justice Department who acts in good faith. One Democratic staffer even called him "very nice," and Weich praised what he sees as Boyd's "calm, sensible approach."
That approach could be tested now that Democrats control the House and wield subpoena power again.
"It's a whole new level of tension when the opposing party takes over," and Boyd should prepare for "one hostile hearing after another," Weich insisted.
Nadler and his fellow Democrats are already pressing the Justice Department on an array of issues. Among the questions they have: Are investigative decisions being improperly influenced by the White House? Why has the Justice Department curtailed certain protections against discrimination? What is the Justice Department doing to stop gun violence across the country or fix the nation's broken immigration system?
Boyd, now 40, has been navigating –- and at times taking part in -- thorny issues for nearly 15 years.
Years before he joined the Justice Department under attorney general Jeff Sessions, Boyd worked as a spokesman for then-senator Sessions. And during that time, at the start of Barack Obama's presidency, Boyd helped promote Sessions' opposition to immigration reform efforts and his rejection of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as nominees to the Supreme Court.
Boyd also helped Sessions push for terrorism suspects to be prosecuted at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the alleged masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are still waiting for their trial to begin.
Like Sessions, Boyd is an Alabama native. Boyd attended the University of Alabama and then graduated from law school there. After his time with Sessions in the Senate, he spent several years as chief of staff to Rep. Martha Roby, another conservative Republican from Alabama.
That type of Capitol Hill experience is key to Boyd's job now.
"Federal prosecutors and members of Congress speak two different languages, and [he] needs to speak both," Weich said.
Through a spokeswoman, Boyd declined to comment for this story.
Alexandra Beier/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though former Vice President Joe Biden has said publicly he hasn’t made up his mind on pursuing a presidential run in 2020, sources close to the politician, who have spoken with him in private, say they believe he will mount a bid.
Robert Wolf, a top Democratic donor and former economic adviser to former President Barack Obama who has known Biden for over a decade, spoke with him last week and believes Biden is "90 percent there" on a run.
"It was clear that this was different than 2015," Wolf told ABC News. "This was someone who seemed ready to run and trying to figure out when best to announce.
"He feels he’s coming off an incredible midterm and he’s sitting in the best position to take on [President Donald] Trump across the country."
Biden also met with Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., last week. Her office confirmed to ABC News that Feinstein left the meeting with the sense that Biden would pursue a run.
However, when asked about his 2020 plans on Saturday during a discussion on election security at the Munich Security Conference, Biden demurred.
“I haven’t reached a decision. I am in that process of doing that, and I will in the near term let everyone know what that decision is,” Biden said.
As Biden contemplates his next steps, he has said he’s not in a rush to get in the race -- despite nearly a dozen Democrats having already announced their candidacy.
“I think there is a sufficient amount of time to [decide], and I think that we have a tendency, particularly in the States, to start the whole election process much too early,” Biden said in Munich.
A spokesperson for the former vice president said Biden's comments on Sunday speak for themselves.
While Biden is taking his time to make the decision, some allies are waiting in the wings to join any potential campaign.
James Smith, who ran for governor of South Carolina in 2018, said he has been in touch with Biden's current staff and has discussed who might be valuable to a Biden run in South Carolina.
"We are all anticipating it is not 'if' but 'when' he announces," Smith told ABC News.
Biden supported Smith's 2018 run and in a video message during the South Carolina Democratic Convention weekend said Smith reminds him of his late son, Beau. While Smith is not working at the direction of Biden, he believes that the former vice president will run and is preparing for that.
"He hasn’t told me he plans to run, but we are preparing for what we believe to be a 'Joe Biden for President' campaign that will be robust here in South Carolina," Smith said.
After a quieter public schedule throughout December and early January, Biden’s appearances have begun to pick up.
Aside from his trip to the Munich Security Conference -- of which he is a frequent attendee -- Biden has three other public events on his schedule for February.
Biden will appear at the University of Pennsylvania Tuesday for a discussion of “global affairs and other topical subjects.” He will also hold a discussion with author Jon Meacham at the University of Delaware on Feb. 26, a rescheduled event from early December.
Biden is also scheduled to give remarks at the inaugural Chuck Hagel Forum in Global Leadership at the University of Nebraska Omaha on Feb. 28. The theme of the event: “The Role of U.S. Leadership in a Changing World."
Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump attacked California and its plans for a high-speed train on Twitter Tuesday as he responded to a 16-state coalition's lawsuit challenging his national emergency declaration.
"As I predicted, 16 states, led mostly by Open Border Democrats and the Radical Left, have filed a lawsuit in, of course, the 9th Circuit! California, the state that has wasted billions of dollars on their out of control Fast Train, with no hope of completion, seems in charge!" Trump tweeted.
Trump zeroed in on California, which is leading the group alleging that Trump's emergency declaration is unconstitutional.
"The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!" Trump tweeted.
The "Fast Train" Trump mentions is referring to California's attempts to construct a high-speed rail project that would have ferried commuters between San Francisco and Los Angeles. According to the Associated Press, costs for the project have doubled to $77 billion and the anticipated date for the rail to be completed has been pushed back 13 years to 2033.
California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has sparred with Trump over federal funding for the project, and has said efforts will be focused on finishing construction in the Central Valley, rather than the original plan that "would cost too much and take too long," Newsom said in his State of the State address.
"President Trump, keep talking... we continue to gather evidence to support our lawsuit against you," California's Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra tweeted Tuesday in response to Trump.
Trump foresaw the challenge, noting what was to come in his speech Friday announcing the emergency declaration.
"We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there," Trump said, "and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we will get another bad ruling, and then we will end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we will get a fair shake and win in the Supreme Court, just like the ban …"
The lawsuit cites Trump's own words as the "best evidence" his declaration of an emergency was invalid. On Friday, Trump said, "I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster," referring to getting money for his proposed wall on the southern border.
Asked on Fox News Sunday what Trump meant, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller said, "What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have. But that's not what he's going to do."
The group that filed the complaint Monday includes attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.
The lawsuit alleges that the states filing the suit "collectively stand to lose millions in federal funding that their National Guard units receive for domestic drug interdiction and counter-drug activities, and millions of dollars received on an annual basis for law enforcement programs," if Trump bypasses Congress to secure about $8 billion for the border wall through a mix of spending from congressional appropriations, executive action and an emergency declaration.
A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed last week; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget.
While it's unclear what specific projects may be affected by Trump's declaration, military projects and drug interdiction programs could be targeted as funds are reallocated.
The lawsuit claims public safety will be at risk and states economies' will be damaged, in addition to "irreparable environmental damage" to California and New Mexico's southern border.
"This 'emergency' is a national disgrace. Rather than focusing on fighting the real vulnerabilities facing Americans, the President is using the powers of America’s highest office to fan the flames of nativism and xenophobia. Our message to the White House is clear: California will not be part of this political theater. We will see you in court," Newsom said in a statement Monday.
Becerra said in a statement Monday, Trump "knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted."
According to Customs and Border Protection data, apprehensions at the border are lower than they were over two decades ago. In 2001 there were 1,643,679 apprehensions at the border, compared with 396,579 in 2018 -- a more than 75 percent drop.
The 16-state coalition's lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is the third in a blitz of legal challenges that were filed shortly after Trump's declaration.
"We're suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states," Becerra said in Monday’s statement. "For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre."
Pete Marovich/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, said Tuesday that he “absolutely” will trust the conclusions ultimately reached by special counsel Robert Mueller, even if that means Mueller determines President Donald Trump hasn’t coordinated his actions with the Russian government.
“I have total confidence in Director Mueller, and the team he’s put together,” McCabe said on ABC’s The View Tuesday. “I will have complete faith in the conclusions that they draw.”
Nevertheless, McCabe told the show’s hosts he had serious concerns that Trump “may be a threat to national security.”
Asked specifically by host Joy Behar whether he believed Trump had been acting as an agent of the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign or shortly after taking office, McCabe said, “We believed that could be possible, and that’s why we opened those cases.”
McCabe was referring to two cases he opened in the days after James Comey was fired as FBI director in May 2017: an investigation into whether Trump was coordinating with Russian operatives, and an investigation into whether Trump was trying to obstruct the FBI’s larger probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
On “The View,” McCabe reiterated previous concerns about Comey’s firing, Trump’s public attacks on the investigation, and Trump’s alleged request of Comey that the FBI back off of its scrutiny of national security adviser Mike Flynn, who lied about his contacts with the Russian government.
The president “fired the director when [Comey] didn’t do the things that the president asked,” and that became “an important part” of the subsequent investigation launched by McCabe, the former deputy director said.
Just minutes before McCabe appeared on the show Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to attack McCabe as a liar motivated by politics. Trump echoed sentiments from the day before, when the president similarly dismissed McCabe's allegations as a bunch of "lies" coming from a "disgraced" official who was fired from the FBI last year for allegedly misleading internal investigators about a leak to the media.
Asked Tuesday whether he has ever “leaked” to the media, McCabe insisted he has not, but he did not say whether he’s ever shared investigative information with the media.
He said that, as deputy director, he was “one of two people at the FBI who had the authority to disclose information to the media,” and that authority is “baked in” to FBI guidelines.
Nevertheless, federal prosecutors are currently weighing whether to bring charges against McCabe for his alleged falsehoods to investigators looking into how information related to a probe of the Clinton Foundation was shared with a reporter.
As for the investigations he opened against Trump, McCabe on Tuesday said he talked with Rosenstein and senior FBI officials about it at the time, and key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were also informed about the new probes.
McCabe recounted how, during separate meetings in the days after Comey was fired, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raised the possibility of wearing a wire into the White House to secretly record the president, and questioned whether the 25th Amendment might be used to oust Trump from office.
“We did not follow up on” either matter, McCabe said. “It never went beyond the realm of a brief off-handed comment.”
As the public waits for Mueller to wrap up his investigation, McCabe said he believes Mueller’s findings should be shared publicly “in the broadest way possible.”
McCabe’s interview with The View was part of a weeks-long media tour for him as he promotes his new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.
narvikk/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Multiple whistleblowers sounded alarms about a plan backed by close advisers to President Donald Trump to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new report released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings on Tuesday.
House Democrats, who have been examining the issue for months, said they plan to investigate whether people close to Trump sought to profit by using White House connections to gain federal approvals.
“Based on this snapshot of events, the Committee is now launching an investigation to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump administration are in the national security interests of the United States, or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy,” wrote Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
The proposal, which began as a bid to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis under the direction of Trump adviser and fundraiser Tom Barrack, the report said, was initially pushed by former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Cummings’ office has previously raised concerns that a consulting business Flynn once ran appeared to have a financial interest in the idea.
New testimony and documents collected by House investigators, summarized in Tuesday’s report, suggest the plan still had support within the White House after Flynn was fired in February of 2017, ahead of his conviction for lying to federal agents about his talks with Russians. And internal emails show that proponents of the plan continued to push for it even as career national security officials worried it violated administration protocol and ethics rules.
“The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” Cummings wrote. “And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisers at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump Administration officials to halt their efforts.”
As part of his new investigation, Cummings plans to send document requests to the White House, a half-dozen federal departments and agencies, and the private companies involved in promoting the nuclear proposal. He also hopes to interview the individuals who worked to advance the plan inside the White House.
Those who supported the plan to recruit U.S. companies to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East called it a “Marshall Plan for the Middle East,” and said it would help American allies develop nuclear programs to check Iran’s power in the region.
But one major proponent of the idea was no stranger to scandal. Robert “Bud” McFarlane, 81, who resigned as President Ronald Reagan’s national security advisor during the Iran-Contra scandal and later pleaded guilty in 1988 to charges involving the withholding of information from Congress, has been a global consultant in the security and energy sectors in recent years.
One week after Trump’s inauguration, McFarlane sent Flynn a pair of memos to initiate action on the plan and recommended Trump appoint Barrack, who chaired Trump’s inaugural committee and has longstanding financial ties to the Middle East, as a special envoy responsible for leading the project and coordinating among different agencies.
“Tom Barrack has been thoroughly briefed on this strategy and wants to run it for you,” reads one memo McFarlane drafted for Flynn to present to Trump. According to Cummings’ report, Flynn forwarded the memos to White House staff and told them to “prep a staff packet to go to the POTUS.”
Around the same time, the House report says, Flynn aide Derek Harvey, the National Security Council’s senior director for Middle East and North African affairs, told NSC aides he had prepared at Flynn’s direction a “new strategy” for the Middle East featuring a “regional and economic energy plan” and attempted to include language about plans to build “40 nuclear power plants” in the Middle East to a briefing package for Trump ahead of a planned called with King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
But the idea raised red flags, the House report says, with some security council officials and White House legal advisers believing the plan could violate laws governing nuclear cooperation between the United States and other countries, such as a provision of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that requires Congress review any proposal to transfer nuclear technology.
Those White House officials tried to persuade more senior advisers to abandon the idea, alleging the proposal from Flynn and his associates was a “scheme for these generals to make some money,” the House report says, and days later, the National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg instructed staff to stop working on the plan.
Flynn’s White House tenure proved to be brief. He was fired in February of 2017, having served in the administration for less than a month, after it was revealed that he misled then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence about his discussions with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition.
But efforts to further the plan in the White House continued even after Flynn’s departure, the report says. In March of 2017, Harvey helped draft a public statement about Trump’s meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, that mentioned a new U.S.-Saudi energy and technology investment program – a reference that caught some officials off guard.
“What the hell is going on?” one senior Trump official asked National Security Council staff, according to Cummings’s report.
In a meeting the next day, the report says, KT McFarland, then the National Security Council deputy director, again raised the “Middle East Marshall Plan,” and said that Trump told Barrack he could lead the effort as long as he wasn’t paid for the role.
Harvey persisted as well, the report says, directing National Security Council staff to add language referencing the plan into talking points for Trump ahead of a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. According to the report, H.R. McMaster, who had replaced Flynn as national security advisor, objected.
“Nobody should work on this anymore,” he told his staff in late March.
Harvey, who left the White House in July of 2017 and now works for Rep. Devin Nunes, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication. But outreach to the White House about the plan continued after Harvey’s departure as well.
Fran Townsend, a homeland security advisor for President George W. Bush – who also served on IP3’s board – emailed then-White House homeland security advisor Thomas Bossert about the Middle East nuclear plan, including a white paper authored by Barrack, and a letter to the Saudi Arabian crown prince signed by advocates for the program along with leaders of six energy companies, according to documents attached to the report.
And someone else from IP3 – an individual who is not identified in the House report – reached out in April of 2017 to Vice President Mike Pence’s national security team, a contact that was reported to the National Security Council legal adviser’s office.
ABC News has contacted the White House, Harvey and Barrack for comment. ABC News has also reached out to spokespeople for former White House officials Flynn and McFarland and sought comment from several people with past or current association to the company IP3, including McFarlane, Towensend and attorneys Alan Dunn and Michael Summersgill. ABC News has also sought comment from the energy firms Westinghouse and Exelon.
None of them have agreed to speak or provided a response at the time this report was published.
Cummings staff believes the idea is still circulating within Trump administration. Just last week, President Trump met with American nuclear energy CEOs about exporting their technology to other parts of the world, though it remains unclear if a Saudi sale was discussed.
Chris Crane, the president and CEO of Exelon Corporation, the country’s largest nuclear operator, said the meeting was a conversation about the U.S. nuclear industry and the need to “maintain a leadership position” in exporting their technology.
“He was very supportive,” Crane said of Trump last week. “We're going to continue dialogue with the administration.”
Michał Chodyra/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- When political showman Roger Stone flew from Florida to the nation's capital last month to stand trial on charges of lying to federal investigators, he was directed to an increasingly familiar destination in the massive federal judicial complex in Washington: Courtroom 3, where Judge Amy Berman Jackson presides.
Jackson has become a low-key but recurring fixture of the special counsel investigation -- six of the 12 cases brought by Robert Mueller's team have had matters brought before her. And Courtroom 3 has been home to some of the most headline-grabbing moments in the special counsel's two-year investigation, with Jackson, a 2011 Obama appointee, serving as an imposing presence.
She has been tough on defendants. When she imposed a 30-day jail sentence on Alexander van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel, she said she considered letting him off with a fine, but decided against it.
"We're not talking about a traffic ticket," she said. "This is lying in a federal criminal investigation."
Earlier this month, in a closed-door hearing in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Jackson dressed down defense attorney Kevin Downing for asking her to consider a comment a juror had made in a newspaper interview after his trial.
"It would be entirely inappropriate for me to rely on my understanding through the media of what took place in that trial," she said.
After a recess, it became clear the issue was not yet put to rest. Jackson had gone back to read the newspaper report anyway and wanted to let the lawyer know that he had interpreted incorrectly.
"Not that I would have relied on the newspaper anyway," she added.
The incident did not surprise defense attorneys who have come before her.
The Harvard Law graduate is, as attorney Shan Wu put it, "meticulous." Wu, who represented former Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates before he forged a cooperation deal with the special counsel, said lawyers are always at risk of running "running afoul in her meticulousness."
"If you're a defense attorney and your defenses are bull [explitive] you don't want to bring them in her courtroom," said Reid Weingarten, a defense attorney who represented Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., whom Judge Jackson sentenced for a felony fraud count in connection to misuse of campaign funds in 2013.
But, Weingarten noted, that does not mean Jackson is "reflexively pro-government."
In the same closed-door proceeding where Downing faced scrutiny from the judge, prosecutors were repeatedly grilled by Jackson and asked to identify specific quotes from Manafort's testimony that could amount to a lie.
At one point, after prosecutor Andrew Weissmann tried to avoid providing specific examples to Jackson, she replied, "So you just don't want me to think about it, that's OK." Weissmann appeared to jump to the defensive by replying, "No. No. No. I'm going to answer your question."
The task of assigning Jackson to so many special counsel cases belongs to Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, and it is routine procedure for chief judges to route related cases to a single courtroom, especially in instances where there might be overlapping evidence.
It is unclear how exactly Howell selected Jackson, but attorneys said she is not viewed as particularly political. She was appointed by a Democrat but was formerly married to a George W. Bush administration official. And she has seen criminal law practiced from both sides of the courtroom. She served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia before transitioning to almost 20 years of private practice as a white collar defense attorney.
Both Wu and Weingarten said Jackson is very concerned about fairness in her courtroom. Wu said this may have served as a motivating factor in her decision last year to place gag orders on Manafort and Gates.
When placing the order on Manafort and Gates, Jackson said she wanted to ensure that arguments happened in her courtroom and "not on the courthouse steps." She's presently considering a similar order for Stone, whose attorneys argued against such a move in a filing last week.
At Stone's status conference in early February, Jackson said she would weigh Stone's First Amendment rights against concerns she had about the ability to seat an impartial jury for Stone. She cautioned him against treating his pre-trial process "like a book tour."
Jackson has yet to rule on this point, but she said that, should she issue a gag order, it would be limited in scope, and that both parties could still publicly discuss "foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady."
No trial date has yet been set for Stone, and a jury was never seated for Manafort's DC case because he pleaded guilty to the charges he faced there. But from the onset, Jackson made it clear that should there have been a trial, she wanted a tight lid on the conduct in her courtroom.
"Mr. Downing, I just want to let you know that you are an expressive human being and how you feel about what is being said in the courtroom is a big part of your demeanor and your physical demeanor," Jackson said at a closed-door hearing related to Manafort's case early last year. "That doesn't upset me particularly, but it will upset me enormously if there's a jury in the box. So just keep that in mind."
Since taking the bench, Jackson has been no stranger to high profile cases. Last year, she struck down a wrongful death suit brought against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to the Benghazi attacks. She's ruled on milestone cases related to the EPA and the Affordable Care Act. In addition to Stone, Manafort, Gates and Van der Zwaan, Jackson is also overseeing matters in the special counsel's case against Manafort's business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, and against Russian hackers allegedly involved in the DNC breach.
During the Jesse Jackson Jr. sentencing, Weingarten said the judge seemed unaffected by the high profile nature of the proceedings.
"The courtroom was packed. The reverend was there. The Jesse Jackson family in the black community is royalty. It was a huge matter," Weingarten said. "She handled with discretion and intimacy and I was grateful for it."
That is a quality that will come in handy, he said, as more high profile cases in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election head to Courtroom 3.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg checked off another box in her recovery Tuesday, returning to the bench for oral arguments for the first time since her surgery to remove cancerous nodules from her lung.
Ginsburg missed oral arguments for the first time in 25 years when she underwent a pulmonary lobectomy in December. She returned to the court last week for the first time for the court's first February conference -- a time when justices discuss whether to take up cases.
Tuesday's appearance offered supporters further assurance that Ginsburg, 85, isn't going anywhere, a fear for liberals who feared her retirement or death would give President Donald Trump a third opportunity to add a justice to the bench.
The court said last month that Ginsburg's doctors confirmed in an exam following the surgery that she had "no evidence of any remaining disease" and that no further treatments were planned.
On Tuesday, Ginsburg's first day back for oral arguments, the court will hear a case about the U.S. Postal Service, which is caught up in a drafting problem from Congress' 2011 patent=reform bill, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
Ginsburg has developed a reputation for her toughness and strength, both because of her rigorous personal training sessions in the Supreme Court exercise room, and because of the strides she's made for gender equality in the workplace.
The star of two recent major films, Ginsburg was one of nine women in her class at Harvard Law School and the co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU, a group she started in order to fight for equal treatment for both genders.
After she was nominated by former President Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court in 1993, she became the second woman to ever serve on the highest court in the land.
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal judge on Tuesday ordered political operative and former adviser to Donald Trump, Roger Stone, to explain his since-deleted Instagram post on Monday in which he slammed the judge and later issued an apology to her.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order for Stone to return to U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday for a show cause hearing to explain why the conditions of his release and limited gag order "should not be modified or revoked in light of the posts on his Instagram account."
"Through legal trickery Deep State hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointed Judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges again Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime," Stone wrote in a caption to the post, which featured a picture of Judge Jackson with a what appeared to be a crosshairs in the upper corner.
Stone completed the caption the request, "Help me fight for my life" and a link to his legal defense fund.
In a statement to ABC News on Monday before Jackson's order, Stone wrote, "A photo of Judge Jackson posted on my Instagram has been misinterpreted. This was a random photo taken from the Internet. Any inference that this was meant to somehow disrespect the Court is categorically false. What some say are crosshairs are in fact the logo of the organization that originally posted it something called corruption central. They use the logo in many photos."
Reached by ABC News Tuesday following Judge Jackson's order, Stone said, "I will be present for the hearing as ordered."
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is set to sign a new directive Tuesday aimed at formally establishing a new space-focused military branch that will begin as an extension of the U.S. Air Force, yet another step toward making the “Space Force” a reality.
Trump, on the campaign trail and elsewhere, had originally touted that the Space Force would work as its own branch on par with the status of the Air Force, Army and Navy, promising "American dominance in space."
But the ‘Space Policy Directive 4’ has been scaled back from that and puts it more in line with the status of the Marine Corps under the Navy – a route seen as more palatable to skeptics in Congress.
“We haven’t abandoned that goal, and I think we’re achieving what is the president’s number one objective which is a separate armed service,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call outlining the legislative proposal Tuesday.
It’s a “step toward a future military department for space,” the official added.
As ABC News has previously reported, the official confirmed to reporters that the Space Force will be headed up by a 4-star general who will serve as chief of staff and will join the ranks of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The president would also nominate a civilian under secretary beneath the Air Force to be approved by Congress.
Late last year, Trump signed a memorandum establishing the Space Command, the military’s 11th unified combatant command -- which centralizes DoD’s warfighting operations in space. In contrast, the Space Force will likely focus on the recruiting, training and equipping of service members for the space mission, along with acquisition.
Tuesday’s directive tasks the Secretary of Defense with drawing up the official budget request for the president’s FY2020 budget, and the official said that they expect the start-up cost won’t exceed $100 million.
Last year then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, who now serves as acting Defense Secretary, put the total cost at less than $5 billion.
An official said Tuesday the figures are still tracking to the “low billions.” ‘Space Policy Directive 4’ will also ask the Defense Secretary and Director of National Intelligence to compile a joint report for President Trump within the next 180 days that outlines progress towards creating the Space Force as well as “a path forward.”
The defense secretary will additionally be responsible with determining the “appropriate time” for recommending that the president propose legislation advancing the Space Force into a separate military department.
Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 presidential campaign earned him a national following and made him a leading figure in the modern progressive movement, announced Tuesday morning that he will seek the White House again in 2020.
"I am writing to let you know I have decided to run for president of the United States," Sanders wrote in an e-mail blast to supporters officially announcing his candidacy. "I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country."
Sanders enters a growing Democratic primary field, which now includes five of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate, with a substantial advantage over his competitors in both name recognition and grassroots organizing strength, but will likely face difficulties in winning over some in the party following an at-times tense 2016 race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
I'm running for president. I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least 1 million people from across the country. Say you're in: https://t.co/KOTx0WZqRfpic.twitter.com/T1TLH0rm26
Sanders also made the announcement on Vermont Public Radio Tuesday morning, saying he wanted to give his constituents a heads up about his plans.
"I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first," Sanders said. "And what I promise to do is, as I go around the country, is to take the values that all of us in Vermont are proud of — a belief in justice, in community, in grassroots politics, in town meetings — that's what I'm going to carry all over this country."
In an interview that aired Tuesday morning on CBS News, Sanders was asked what will be different about this campaign than his 2016 run.
"We're going to win," Sanders said. "We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history and that is a grassroots movement."
A self-described Democratic socialist and a political Independent, Sanders' campaign brings with it a vast organizing network built during his 2016 campaign that saw him notch wins in key primary states like New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin.
While he ultimately fell short in his race against Clinton, his 2016 campaign allowed Sanders to establish himself as a prominent, recognizable and influential voice in Democratic politics.
"His name recognition is obviously substantially higher than it was before when we started out with huge majorities in many states who didn’t know who he was... it is true that now he has nearly 100 percent name recognition," Sanders 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver told ABC News.
The former mayor of Burlington, Sanders was first elected to Congress in 1990 and later to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
During his time in Congress and on the campaign trail in 2016, Sanders has fashioned himself as a champion for progressive causes like "Medicare for All," a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college education, ideas that have steadily gained traction in the Democratic Party in recent months.
Multiple Democratic competitors for the party's presidential nomination in 2020, including California Sen. Kamala Harris and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have either co-sponsored or signed on to Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan that he has proposed.
"All these issues that he talked about in 2016, which were considered to be out the mainstream, are now firmly in the mainstream of both the Democratic Party and the country," said Weaver, who will not be reprising his role as Sanders' campaign manager in 2020. "He was the person talking about these issues when they were not popular, and therefore he is the person that if elected for president people can have confidence will actually pursue these critical agenda items and not trade them away for other priorities."
In his announcement email sent out to his vast network of supporters, Sanders also cast the 2020 race as a "dangerous moment," for the country, and, as he did on the campaign trail in 2016 and during his numerous appearances with Democratic candidates during the 2018 midterm elections, labeled President Donald Trump a "pathological liar," and a "racist."
"You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history," Sanders wrote. "We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction."
But as Sanders launches an ambitious campaign to capture the Democratic nomination, he is facing a number of negative headlines surrounding his 2016 campaign's handling of sexual harassment claims made by women against senior members of his staff.
Last month, Sanders apologized to those women, adding that his campaign's standards and procedures for dealing with such claims were "clearly inadequate."
Weaver said the 2020 campaign is addressing the issues from the 2016 campaign "forcefully," and is bringing in outside help to ensure a culture "in which everyone feels included and safe."
Decisions regarding senior staff and initial campaign travel are expected to be announced later this week, as Sanders officially enters the ever-growing Democratic field eager for a shot to deny President Trump a second term in the Oval Office.
Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told colleagues he plans to leave the Justice Department in mid-March, according to a Justice Department official familiar with the matter.
Jeff Rosen, the current deputy at Transportation, is newly-confirmed Attorney General William Barr's top pick to become deputy attorney general, according to the official.
An announcement officially nominating a new deputy attorney general could come as early as this week, the official said.
In January, ABC News first reported that Rosenstein had communicated to President Donald Trump and White House officials his plan to depart the administration "in the coming weeks," around the time Barr would take office following a Senate confirmation, multiple sources said.
Sources told ABC News Rosenstein wanted to ensure a smooth transition to his successor and would accommodate the needs of Barr, should he be confirmed.
Barr was confirmed and sworn in on Feb. 14.
Rosenstein apparently had long been thinking he would serve about two years, and there was no indication that he was being forced out by the president.
Upon the termination of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speculation mounted that Rosenstein would depart shortly thereafter, yet he's remained in his post as Matt Whitaker had served as acting attorney general since late November, until Barr's confirmation last week.
Rosenstein oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller's probe for more than a year, after Sessions had recused himself from the matter over his role in Trump's presidential campaign.
In May 2017, shortly after Trump fired James Comey as FBI Director, Rosenstein made the call to appoint Mueller to take over the FBI probe of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible ties between Russian operatives and Trump associates.
Trump and his Republican allies have repeatedly blasted that decision.
Though Rosenstein became deputy attorney general under Trump, he served in senior Justice Department roles under both Republican and Democratic presidents. Many of his colleagues within the Justice Department view him as someone who's made decisions based on protecting the department's legacy.
From 2005 to 2017, Rosenstein served as U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. Over 15 years before that, he served in senior roles throughout the Justice Department, prosecuting public corruption and other federal crimes, and serving as a senior counselor in the department during the Clinton administration.
During his March 2017 confirmation hearing to become deputy attorney general, Rosenstein told senators he would "certainly" resign his post if he felt he was being inappropriately pressured to influence an investigation.
Michael Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis seen here in the center during an interview for "The Investigation" podcast. (ABC News) (WASHINGTON) -- When Michael Cohen appears before Congress in the coming weeks, he plans to describe details of life inside the Trump Organization boardroom that he witnessed firsthand for nearly a decade, his lawyer told ABC News.
"He needs to tell his personal story to the American people," Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney, said in a wide-ranging interview for the second episode of "The Investigation," a new podcast focused on the probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
"And when he does," Davis added, "you're going to hear personal, front-line experiences of memories, and incidents, and conduct, and comments that Donald Trump said over that 10-year time period behind closed doors that, to me when I first heard Michael tell me all this, even as much as I knew about Trump that was negative, was chilling."
Cohen has pledged to appear before closed sessions of the House and Senate intelligence committees and in a public session of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee before he reports for a federal prison sentence on March 6.
Davis shared for the first time with ABC News details about the topics Cohen plans to cover when he finally appears. Davis said that while Cohen cannot talk about subjects vital to the special counsel investigation, he can describe his life at Trump's side, where he spent years as a lawyer and fixer.
He said the issue Cohen "can speak to better than anyone" is President Donald Trump's character.
Davis said that lawmakers will hear "how he speaks in bigoted words in private, which Michael Cohen will tell you."
"He treats people badly," the veteran Washington, D.C., attorney continued. "He has no moral character in defrauding people in his businesses, and going bankrupt, and taking cash out, and putting people out of work. He lacks the moral compass that we expect in our presidents."
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to six felonies associated with his personal business dealings, including tax evasion and making false statements to a bank, and two felony campaign finance violations in connection with his role in arranging non-disclosure agreements during Trump's campaign with two women who had claimed past affairs with the president.
In November, he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump and his company pursued at the same time he was securing the GOP nomination in 2016. Cohen has on repeated occasions scheduled, and then canceled, appearances before Congress in recent weeks.
The president and his advisers have made no secret about how they plan to rebut claims made by Cohen, repeatedly describing him in media interviews as a dishonest broker who will say anything to try and reduce his impending prison sentence.
"The man is pathetic," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in December on This Week.
"He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth, and here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying," Giuliani continued. "The man doesn't tell the truth."
John Dowd, who once led Trump's legal team, told "The Investigation" last week he thought Cohen "has done a great job of putting the rope around his neck."
Davis compared such comments from the president and his team to mafia tactics. He took issue with a tweet from Trump describing Cohen as a "rat," a euphemism for "snitch" that Davis said could put his client in danger when he reports to prison.
"Here's the president of the United States, the top official in law enforcement and everything else in the United States, using Twitter to call a person who is cooperating with prosecutors a 'rat,'" Davis said. "That in and of itself is an abuse of power that could lead to his ouster."
Davis offered few clues about where he thought the special counsel investigation was headed, other than that he thought it held the potential to do damage to Trump. He dismissed the suggestion from Dowd that the investigation would not yield a report at all -- a prediction Dowd made on the previous episode of "The Investigation."
"It sounds like wishful thinking to me," Davis said.
What he knows, Davis said, is that Cohen contributed "70 hours and seven days" of interviews with the Mueller team.
Davis said the team viewed that testimony to be "relevant, important, significant and it went to the core issues of the Mueller investigation. That's what we know."
Whether the public is ready to accept Davis' portrait of Cohen as a changed man -- "transformed" was his word -- remains to be seen. While the special counsel did credit Cohen's cooperation, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were not as swayed.
"Any suggestion by Cohen that his meetings with law enforcement reflect a selfless and unprompted about-face are overstated," the prosecutors wrote in their sentencing recommendation. "Had Cohen actually cooperated, it could have been fruitful."
Davis has deep experience in the trenches of political scandal, combining his legal background with his expertise in public relations. He served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, guiding him through a series of fractious political investigations, including an impeachment trial born out of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Davis, who spent 12 years representing Maryland in the Democratic National Committee, provided a harsh assessment of the Trump tenure, but also expressed some concern that Democrats risked overplaying their attacks on the president.
"We could overreach," Davis said. "And we have a tendency, just like the Republicans, to follow the most extreme voices in our base. And there is a danger that we will do that."
Mario Tama/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sixteen states, including California, New Jersey and Nevada, sued President Donald Trump on Monday over his emergency declaration to open up funding for a border wall.
The lawsuit, which named the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia as plaintiffs, seeks to block what it called the Trump Administration’s "unauthorized construction of the border wall, and any illegal diversion of Congressionally-appropriated funds."
“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power. We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom lambasted the president earlier this week when the White House
Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday, progressive organizers across the U.S. scrambled together in a show of solidarity to protest against Trump in the backdrop of President’s Day.
Reggie Hubbard, a congressional liaison and Washington, D.C., strategist for Move On said progressives have decided to come together "to show this is not how the way that we conduct the government."
On Monday, the group held over 250 events with 30,000 people registered to attend rallies in efforts to "protest to fight Trump’s fake crisis and racist deportation forces," Hubbard said. The group held events across the U.S. with local leaders and members of Congress including Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rashida Talib, D-M.I., and Ayanna Pressley, D-M.A., in their respective districts. The events were planned in only two days, Hubbard said.
The national emergency declaration has ignited progressives who said they see splinters within the Republican Party. The largest splinter, according to progressives, is the Republicans inability to pass legislative funding to support the president’s campaign promise of a border wall along the southern U.S. border.
"This fake national emergency is splintering the Republican party, that is good news," Elizabeth Beavers, associate policy director of Indivisible, told a crowd of several hundred outside of the White House on Monday. "It is the first emergency you can plan three weeks in advance."
Center for American Progress President Neera Tandden took a jab at Republicans, declaring conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter "controls our laws more than Congress right now."
Earlier in the year, Trump publicly unfollowed Coulter on Twitter after she criticized his lack of action on the border wall.
Following his Rose Garden declaration, Coulter said in an radio interview that "the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot."
Trump attempted to establish distance between himself and Coulter on Friday, telling reporters "I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in any way over a year but the press loves saying 'Ann Coulter.'"
A number of rally participants said they were suing or planning to sue the Trump Administration’s attempt to use the national emergency to build the wall.
During Trump’s Rose Garden remarks announcing the National Emergency on Friday, the president said bluntly that he expected his decision to play out in court. "Look, I expect to be sued. I shouldn't be sued. Very rarely do you get sued when you do a national emergency."
Several organizers have announced they plan on calling on Congress to act, including Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin.
"Starting tomorrow we're gonna be in the halls of congress. We are going to demand that the Congress people pass legislation that says no to the National Emergency. We're going to support the ACLU and Public Citizen and other groups that are suing the administration over the fake emergency." Benjamin said.
Code Pink and other groups are planning organizing meetings as soon as this week.
"This is something that is bringing together a lot of different organizations that care about different issues," Benjamin added.
Pete Marovich/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe – who took an oath to protect the U.S. homeland – said he had a professional obligation to open up criminal investigations targeting President Donald Trump.
"If we failed to open an investigation under [the] circumstances, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs," McCabe told CBS News' "60 Minutes" in a much-anticipated interview Sunday night, citing concerns "about a national security threat."
McCabe, a lifelong Republican who spent two decades fighting terrorism and crime for the FBI, was specifically referring to Trump’s actions surrounding James Comey’s firing as FBI director in May 2017.
Monday morning, Trump dismissed McCabe's comments as a bunch of "lies" from a "disgraced" official.
In the interview with CBS News, McCabe described Trump as a president who was almost "gleeful" over Comey’s axing, who repeatedly attacked the FBI’s investigation of possible ties between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives, and who asked Comey in a private meeting "to discontinue the investigation of Mike Flynn," Trump’s national security adviser who lied to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian government.
Trump even allegedly asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "to include Russia in [a] memo" justifying the FBI director’s removal, but Rosenstein didn’t do that, according to McCabe.
"Put together, these circumstances were articulable facts that indicated that a crime may have been committed," McCabe said. "The president may have been engaged in obstruction of justice in the firing of Jim Comey."
As the acting FBI director after Comey's departure, McCabe said he also wanted to know whether Trump may have been acting in coordination with Russia, who McCabe called "our most formidable adversary on the world stage."
All of Trump’s actions made McCabe and others at the FBI wonder: "Is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?" McCabe recalled.
The president’s moves concerned federal law enforcement officials so much that Rosenstein allegedly "offered to wear a wire into the White House," according to McCabe.
"He said, 'I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn’t know it was there,'" McCabe added.
Justice Department officials close to Rosenstein have suggested any mention of a wire was in jest, but McCabe insisted in his interview Sunday night that Rosenstein "was absolutely serious."
Spokespeople for Rosenstein have repeatedly stated that he never approved use of a wire and never took any steps to make it happen.
Regardless, the FBI’s general counsel killed the idea as soon as it was presented to him, according to McCabe.
"I think the general counsel had a heart attack," McCabe recalled. "And when he got up off the floor, he said, 'That’s a bridge too far. We’re not there yet.'"
Nevertheless, McCabe said he opened up the investigations targeting Trump after Comey’s firing "to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion, [so] that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace."
In the interview, McCabe recounted how, during one "frenzied chaotic conversation" after Comey’s firing, Rosenstein "threw out" the possibility of using the 25th Amendment to oust Trump from office.
"[He] discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort," according to McCabe.
In a statement, a Justice Department spokesman insisted "there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment," and Rosenstein was not "in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment."
Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are currently deciding whether to bring charges against McCabe for allegedly misleading federal investigators about his role in leaking information to a reporter.
After a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general last year detailed McCabe’s alleged falsehoods, McCabe was fired from the FBI, just days before he was set to retire.
In the interview with CBS News, McCabe maintained that he did not intentionally mislead anyone.
"There's absolutely no reason for anyone and certainly not for me to misrepresent what happened. So no. Did I ever intentionally mislead the people I spoke to? I did not. I had no reason to. And I did not," McCabe said.
In a Twitter post on Monday, however, Trump said McCabe was "fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged."
"He and Rod Rosenstein ... look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught," Trump added.
The new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said he will investigate whether McCabe and others were planning a "bureaucratic coup."
McCabe’s interview with CBS News was the start of a weeks-long media tour for McCabe, who is promoting his new book, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.