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The new acting FBI director keeps contradicting the White House’s spin in Senate testimony

Andrew McCabe testified that the Russia investigation was “highly significant” and that Comey was well-respected in the bureau.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

Before his firing, FBI Director James Comey had been set to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats Thursday morning. So the new acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe — who had been Comey’s deputy and is now in charge while the administration looks for a permanent replacement — stepped in instead.

Naturally, McCabe was asked several questions about the FBI’s Russia investigation and about Comey’s firing. And on several specifics, his answers contradicted the story the White House has been telling, and suggested the Russia probe is still full steam ahead, for now at least.

On Wednesday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed the Russia investigation was “probably one of the smallest things” the FBI had “going on their plate.” When asked about that comment, McCabe wouldn’t agree. “We consider it to be a highly significant investigation,” he said instead.

Sanders also said that the White House would “love” for the investigation “to be completed so that we can all move on.” But McCabe signaled he had no intention of doing so. “It is my opinion and belief that the FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely,” he testified.

The administration has also claimed that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey. Perhaps unsurprisingly (given that Comey was his boss), McCabe disputed that. “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” he said. “I can confidently tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees, enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”

McCabe also maintained that in his view, the Russia investigation was not being deprived of needed resources. Some press reports had suggested that Comey had asked for more resources for the investigation before he was fired, but McCabe said he wasn’t aware of that and it didn’t fit with what he knew about how those requests were made. “I believe we have the adequate resources to do it, and I know that we have resourced that investigation adequately," he testified.

And overall, McCabe maintained that the investigation would continue despite Comey’s dismissal. “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date. Quite simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, from protecting the American people, from upholding the Constitution,” he said.

By around noon, however, the action had moved away from the public hearing, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who wrote the letter criticizing Comey that the White House cited in the firing — arrived on Capitol Hill to meet with senators in private.

Watch: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate ...

After the firing of James Comey, the new acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other agency chiefs testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Posted by Vox on Thursday, May 11, 2017

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