During an interview on Tuesday’s edition of Today, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that in the immediate aftermath of then-FBI Director James Comey’s firing in May 2017, he briefed the “Gang of Eight” about his decision to open a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump — and Republicans raised no objections to it.
“I told Congress what we had done,” McCabe said. “No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts.”
At that time, the “Gang of Eight” included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, then-House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), and their Democratic counterparts — Chuck Schumer (NY), Mark Warner (VA), Nancy Pelosi (CA), and Adam Schiff (CA), respectively.
McCabe’s revelation suggests the objections that Nunes in particular has raised to the ongoing FBI investigation of Trump and his campaign may have more to do with politics than the merits of the case. At the very least, Nunes was apparently aware that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into the president, and still worked hand in hand with the White House to push a conspiracy theory that the FBI and intelligence agencies were compromised by anti-Trump bias.
McCabe told Today host Savannah Guthrie that he ordered the opening of a counterintelligence investigation into Trump following Comey’s firing because “we had information that led us to believe that there might be a threat to national security, in this case that the president himself might be a threat to United States national security” — in particular, that Trump might be a Russian agent.
“The president, in our view, had gone to extreme measures to potentially impact — negatively impact, possibly turn off — our investigation of Russian meddling into the election, and Russian coordination with his campaign,” McCabe said. “We thought that might be possible [that Trump was working for Russia] ... you have to ask yourself, if you believe that the president might have obstructed justice for the purpose of ending our investigation into Russia, you have to ask yourself why. Why would any president of the United States not want the FBI to get to the bottom of Russian interference in our election?”
McCabe was fired from the FBI last March, after Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded McCabe “lacked candor” about his involvement in leaks to a reporter. Trump has pointed to this as a reason not to believe McCabe’s current account, and accused him of political bias more general. But it’s important to note that the leak investigation that ensnared McCabe related to an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, not into Trump.
Wow, so many lies by now disgraced acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He was fired for lying, and now his story gets even more deranged. He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2019
McCabe said on Today that he believes the true reason he was fired was because he opened the investigations into Trump.
“I believe very strongly I was fired because of the steps we just discussed — I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States,” McCabe said. “I read that report very closely myself. I’ve been writing and reading investigative reports for over 20 years, and that [inspector general] report was not like anything I have ever read before. An investigative report contains all of the evidence, it includes all of the information — not just those facts that support the conclusion you want to draw.”
“So I have big problems with that report, I disagree with the conclusions they drew, and that is something I’ll be raising in a civil lawsuit that I’ll be bringing against the Department of Justice,” he added.
McCabe also said that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were “deadly serious” about the idea of having Rosenstein wear a wire into a meeting with Trump.
“The fact that POTUS may have committed obstruction of justice for the purpose of impeding our investigation into Russia — that was the big-picture issue that we were trying to find our way through,” he said.
In response to an earlier interview McCabe did on 60 Minutes, the DOJ released a statement characterizing his version of events as “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” But as my colleague Alex Ward has noted, “the statement goes on to deny things McCabe never charged, namely, that he didn’t ‘authorize’ recording Trump when all the former FBI leader said was that it was merely discussed.”