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'The president needs to know it is all a setup': Trump's media allies are warning him not to fire Rod Rosenstein after bombshell NYT report

David Choi
  • President Donald Trump's allies in the media are divided on how to defuse a bombshell report from The New York Times.
  • According to sources in the report published on Friday, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein floated the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to discharge President Donald Trump, and allegedly suggested wearing a wire to secretly record conversations with the president.
  • While some conservative personalities called for Rosenstein's immediate ouster, others expressed caution and warned Trump not to fire the deputy attorney general.
  • One Fox News opinion host suggested The Times's report was a trap intended to get Trump to fire Rosenstein in a fit of pique, which, according to the host, could give lawmakers new reasons to try to impeach him.

President Donald Trump's allies in the media are divided on how to defuse the bombshell report in which deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein allegedly floated the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to evict President Donald Trump from the White House, and allegedly suggested wearing a wire to secretly record conversations with the president.

Rosenstein's alleged comments, which some sources claim was said in jest, were reportedly made days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. The comments were recounted by sources who were briefed on either Rosenstein's meetings and conversations, or on the contemporaneous memos written by former FBI officials, including then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe.

The revelation was first reported by The New York Times on Friday.

But the report, which Rosenstein described as "inaccurate and factually incorrect," still shook Trump's closest allies.

Conservative media personalities weighed in on TV and put forth their theories about who leaked details of the memo. While some conservatives called for Rosenstein's immediate ouster, others warned Trump to be cautious.

"I have a message for the president tonight," Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity said Friday night. "Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody."

Hannity suggested "deep-state" actors within the Justice Department were tempting Trump to impulsively fire Rosenstein, who is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Firing Rosenstein could have grave implications for Trump, who is already under scrutiny for possibly obstructing justice by firing Comey.

"These actors tonight ... they are hoping and praying that the president does just that," Hannity said. "They're hoping he gets mad, that he gets sick and tired of it, and that they can turn this politically into their equivalent of a Friday Night Massacre. The president needs to know it is all a setup."

Andrew McCabe

Tucker Carlson, another opinion host on Fox News, also suggested The Times's report was a trap and floated the idea that McCabe, who was fired by Trump 26 hours before his official retirement, leaked the memos since he "has every incentive to want to see the president impeached."

McCabe would "do that knowing that the story might cause the president to fire Rod Rosenstein," and give probably cause for Democrats to file impeachment proceedings, Carlson said on his show.

McCabe, through his attorney, said he "has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

Carlson also noted that the report would inevitably "drive the president crazy," and cause internal division within the White House.

"If you were laying a trap for Donald Trump, this might be exactly how you'd do it," Carlson warned. "Before moving forward, the president might ask himself, 'why do [Andrew] McCabe and the New York Times want me to fire Rod Rosenstein? And why do they want me to do it now, rather than a year ago?'"

"When your enemies give you political advice, it's worth asking questions like that," Carlson added.

But other conservatives, such as Fox News opinion host Laura Ingraham, advised Trump to take the scorched Earth approach on the Justice Department, a bureaucracy he described this week as being inflicted by "a cancer."

"The president, tonight, should seriously consider whether Rod Rosenstein should remain on the job," Ingraham said. "The White House should be devoting every resource it can to determining the veracity of this report."

"We just cannot have this plotting at the highest levels of the Justice Department against the chief executive of this executive branch," she added.

Trump previously threatened to "get involved" after the conservative House Freedom Caucus drafted articles of impeachment against Rosenstein for slow-walking the release documents on Justice Department employees. But he has reportedly warmed up to Rosenstein as recently as August, after having held phone calls and meetings with him several times a week.

"It's fantastic," Trump said, referring to his relationship with Rosenstein, in a Wall Street Journal report. "We have a great relationship."

But the latest report on Rosenstein comes amid another chaotic moment in the White House, which could arouse suspicion and drive a wedge between whatever relationship Trump and the deputy attorney general may have.

The report also comes on the heels of Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward's tell-all book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," and the publishing of an anonymous New York Times op-ed that shines an unflattering light on Trump's presidency.

Despite The Times's report, Trump did not overtly telegraph his intentions during a campaign speech at a rally in Missouri on Friday night. He gave a qualified appraisal of the Justice Department in his speech but took a moment to snipe at what he called "some real bad" FBI employees.

"We have great people in the Department of Justice. We have great people," Trump said. "These are people, I really believe, you take a poll, I gotta be at 95%."

"But you got some real bad ones," he added. "You've seen what's happened at the FBI. They're all gone. They're all gone. They're all gone. But there's a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that too."