Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe vowed Thursday that he would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to interfere with the bureau’s probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election — though he asserted that there had “been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
McCabe made the assertions at a public hearing with top U.S. intelligence officials before the Senate Intelligence Committee — a hearing that has taken on new significance since Trump suddenly removed James B. Comey from the FBI’s top post.
McCabe appeared in place of Comey, and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the committee vice chair, asked him at the outset if he would commit to informing the committee if the White House tried to meddle in the Russia investigation.
“I absolutely do,” McCabe responded.
Later, though, McCabe said the bureau’s probe had not — and would not — be deterred.
“Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” he said in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
McCabe declined to comment on President Trump’s assertion that Comey, while FBI director, had told him three times that he was not under investigation.
Trump had made the claim in his letter firing Comey as a sort of bizarre aside — as the rationale for removing the FBI director was purportedly not in relation to any probe that might touch the president but instead because of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the committee’s chair, asked McCabe: “Did you ever hear Director Comey tell the president that he was not the subject of an investigation?”
“Sir, I can’t comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president,” McCabe responded.
McCabe is certain to face more questions Thursday on the status of the bureau and its high-profile probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Warner said in his opening remarks that Trump’s firing of Comey “cost us an opportunity to get at the truth, at least for today.”
SOURCE: Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian
The Washington Post