Rod Rosenstein
Credit: Office of Public Affairs/Flickr

Sometimes all the news isn’t fit to print.

There are certain stories that simply don’t pass the smell test, and I’m afraid this is one of them:

The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide…

Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.

None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment…

Mr. Rosenstein disputed this account.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he said in a statement. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman also provided a statement from a person who was present when Mr. Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire. The person, who would not be named, acknowledged the remark but said Mr. Rosenstein made it sarcastically.

It beggars belief that Rosenstein was serious about recording Trump. It appears that many of the sources for this story deliberately pretended that Rosenstein wasn’t being sarcastic when he made the comments, and were attempting to cast Rosenstein in the worst light possible.

This flawed story will unfortunately embolden Republicans to continue their efforts to demonize Rosenstein and ultimately quash the Russia investigation. Weren’t the reporters on this story even the tiny bit skeptical of the idea that Rosenstein would legitimately call for Trump to be taped, and would advocate for him to be removed from office via the 25th Amendment?

The moment I read this story, I immediately thought of Judy Miller’s bogus reports about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The New York Times ran BS then, and it’s very likely they’re running BS now.

It’s a damn shame that the Times has once again chosen to harm its own credibility by running with this deeply dubious story. No editor raised an eyebrow about this reporting? No one felt this story was bereft of credibility? What’s going on at the New York Times? Has the Gray Lady gone senile?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.