Former top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.
The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book, Fox News reports.
Baker did not identify the two Cabinet officials. But in his testimony, the lawyer said McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to him to relay their conversations with Rosenstein, including discussions of the 25th Amendment.
“I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he — this was what was related to me — that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment,” Baker told the committees.
Fox News requested further comment from the parties involved. Lawyers for Baker and McCabe declined comment, as did an FBI spokesperson.
In his testimony, Baker said of McCabe’s state of mind: “At this point in time, Andy was unbelievably focused and unbelievably confident and squared away. I don’t know how to describe it other than I was extremely proud to be around him at that point in time because I thought he was doing an excellent job at maintaining focus and dealing with a very uncertain and difficult situation. So I think he was in a good state of mind at this point in time.”
During the closed-door hearing, the former FBI lawyer told lawmakers he could not say whether Rosenstein was taking the initiative to seek out Cabinet members:
Question: “Do you know what direction that went? Was it Mr. Rosenstein seeking out members of the Cabinet looking to pursue this 25th Amendment approach or was it the other way around?”
Baker: “What I recall being said was that the Deputy Attorney General had two members of the Cabinet. So he – how they came to be had, I don’t know, but…”
Question: “So he had two members, almost like he was taking the initiative and getting the members?”
Baker: “That would be speculation on my part.”
Baker also said he did not know the names of the two Cabinet officials.
“Lisa and Andy did not tell me, and my impression was they didn’t know themselves,” he said.
Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which provides a process to declare that the president is unfit for office.
Such a move would be unprecedented, and the author of the essay writes that the discussions did not move forward because “no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”
The amendment, adopted by the states 51 years ago, provides a complex, difficult process for the removal of a sitting president. Here is a brief history of the 25th Amendment and an explanation of how it operates.
What is the 25th Amendment?
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution is primarily designed to clarify the presidential order of succession.
The fourth section provides a multistep process for the vice president and a majority of the officials who lead executive agencies — commonly thought of as the cabinet — to declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That process ultimately requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.
The fourth section of the 25th Amendment — has never been used, to date.
“Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing…which happens in third world countries. You have to obey the law. This is an attack on our system & Constitution.” Alan Dershowitz. @TuckerCarlson
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2019
“Any Justice Department official who even mentioned the 25th amendment in the context of President Trump has committed a grievous offense against the Constitution. The framers had in mind something very specific, and trying to use the 25th amendment to circumvent impeachment provisions or to circumvent an election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power-grabbing.” ~ Retired Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.