Tonight you will hear for the first time from the man who ordered the FBI investigations of the president. Former Acting Director Andrew McCabe is about to describe behind-the-scenes chaos in 2017, after President Trump. In the days that followed, McCabe says that law enforcement officials discussed whether to secretly record a conversation with the president and whether Mr. Trump could be removed from office through invoking the 25th Amendment. McCabe is the first person present in those meetings to describe them publicly.
McCabe is a lifelong Republican who had a sterling 21-year career at the FBI; serving as head of counter-terrorism and number two under Comey. But he was fired last year for allegedly lying to his own agents about a story he leaked to a newspaper. Not since Watergate has the FBI been drawn so deeply into presidential politics. Andrew McCabe was pulled into the center of the tempest on May 9, 2017 when he was summoned by the president hours after Comey was fired.
Andrew McCabe: I’d never been to a meeting in the Oval Office before. I’m a career FBI agent-government worker.
Scott Pelley: Oval Office was above your pay grade.
Andrew McCabe: It certainly was. And the president immediately went off on a almost a gleeful description of what had happened with the firing of Jim Comey. And then he went on to state that people in the FBI were — were thrilled about this, that people really disliked Jim Comey and that they were very happy about this and that it was, it was a great thing.
Scott Pelley: He was telling you what the reaction inside the FBI was?
Andrew McCabe: He was. It was very different than the reaction I had seen immediately before I came to the White House.
Scott Pelley: Which was what?
Andrew McCabe: People were shocked. We had lost our leader, a leader who was respected and liked by the vast majority of FBI employees. People were very sad. But anyway, that night in the Oval Office what I was hearing from the president was, not reality. It was the version of the events that I quickly realized he wished me to adopt. As he went on talking about how happy people in the FBI were, he said to me, “I heard that you were part of the resistance.”
Scott Pelley: What did he mean by that?
Andrew McCabe: Well I didn’t know. And so I asked him. And he said, “I heard that you were one of the people that did not support Jim Comey. You didn’t agree with him and the decisions that he’d made in the Clinton case. And is that true?” And I said, “No sir. That’s not true. I worked very closely with Jim Comey. I was a part of that team and a part of those decisions.”
Scott Pelley: You had the sense you’d given him the wrong answer.
Andrew McCabe: I knew I’d given him the wrong answer.
Scott Pelley: You weren’t trying to hang onto this job.
Andrew McCabe: I wasn’t willing to lie to keep it. I didn’t know when I’d be out of the job. I thought it would probably be pretty soon. And so I just put my head down and got to work trying to stabilize the people around me and do the things that I felt we needed to do with the Russia investigation, getting cases opened and getting a special counsel appointed.
After Comey was fired, McCabe says he ordered two investigations of the president himself. They asked two questions. One, did Mr. Trump fire Comey to impede the investigation into whether Russia interfered with the election. And two, if so, was Mr. Trump acting on behalf of the Russian government.
Andrew McCabe: I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage. And that was something that troubled me greatly.
Scott Pelley: How long was it after that that you decided to start the obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the president?
Andrew McCabe: I think the next day, I met with the team investigating the Russia cases. And I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward. I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.
Scott Pelley: You wanted a documentary record—
Andrew McCabe: That’s right—
Scott Pelley: —That those investigations had begun because you feared that they would be made to go away.
Andrew McCabe: That’s exactly right.
SOURCE: Scott Pelley, CBS