Donald Trump

Fired FBI deputy Andrew McCabe has given the memos he wrote about Donald Trump to Robert Mueller’s probe

McCabe, who was fired on Friday night, had been keeping notes on his conversations with Trump, just like his ex-boss James Comey

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 2:09am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2018, 6:35am

Andrew McCabe, who was fired as FBI deputy director on Friday, has turned over memos on his interactions with US President Donald Trump to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of Russia collusion investigators.

Mueller’s team of investigators is examining Trump campaign ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice by the president and some of his entourage.

McCabe’s memos, which recall similar memos made by his former boss, James Comey, include details of his own interactions with the president. 

They also recount different conversations he had with Comey, who kept notes on meetings with Trump that unnerved him, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorised to discuss the notes publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Though the precise contents are unknown, the memos could possibly help substantiate McCabe’s assertion that he was unfairly maligned by the White House after it declared “war” on the FBI and Mueller’s investigation. 

They almost certainly contain, as Comey’s memos did, previously undisclosed details about encounters between the Trump administration and FBI that could be of interest to Mueller.

The disclosure Saturday came hours after Trump called McCabe’s firing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a “a great day for Democracy.”

He also tweeted without elaborating that Comey “made McCabe look like a choirboy” and that either Comey or McCabe “knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

Comey gave a terse response, tweeting: “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honourable and who is not.”

Rather more florid were remarks by former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, who wrote: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. 

“You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America … America will triumph over you.”

Sessions, acting on the recommendation on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials, fired McCabe two days before his scheduled retirement date.

McCabe suggested the move was part of the Trump administration’s “war on the FBI.” Trump tweeted in praise of Sessions’ announcement Friday night, asserting without elaboration that McCabe “knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels off the FBI!”

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An upcoming inspector general’s report is expected to conclude that McCabe, a Comey confidant, authorised the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability,” Sessions said in a statement.

McCabe said his credibility had been attacked as “part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally” but also the FBI and law enforcement.

“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day,” he added, referring to Robert Mueller’s probe into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. 

“Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

Shortly after the details of McCabe’s memos went public, Donald Trump tweeted again, this time saying: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. 

“How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry A, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”

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Trump was referring to recently departed Democrat Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was investigated in 2016 by the FBI, who were concerned that donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated law by accepting money from foreign donors.

In 2016 it was also revealed that McCabe’s wife, during her unsuccessful legislative run, received campaign contributions from the political action committee of McAuliffe, a long-time Clinton friend.

The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife’s candidacy and was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time.

After McCabe was fired, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, cited the “brilliant and courageous example” by Sessions and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

He also said in a statement on Saturday that the No. 2 Justice Department official, Rod Rosenstein, should “bring an end” to the Russia investigation “manufactured” by Comey.

Dowd later said that he was neither calling on Rosenstein – who is overseeing Mueller’s inquiry – to fire the special counsel immediately, nor had discussed with him the idea of dismissing Mueller or ending the probe.

McCabe asserted he was singled out because of the “role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath” of Comey’s fired by Trump last May.

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Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including Comey’s ousting, constitute obstruction of justice. McCabe could be an important witness.

Trump, in his Tweet early Saturday, said McCabe’s firing was “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.”

He said “Sanctimonious James Comey,” as McCabe’s boss, made McCabe “look like a choirboy.”

McCabe said the release of the findings against him was accelerated after he told congressional officials that he could corroborate Comey’s accounts of Comey’s conversations with the president.

McCabe spent more than 20 years as a career FBI official and played key roles in some of the bureau’s most recent significant investigations. 

Trump repeatedly condemned him over the past year as emblematic of an FBI leadership he contends is biased against his administration.

McCabe had been on leave from the FBI since January, when he abruptly left the deputy director position. 

He had planned to retire on Sunday, and the dismissal probably jeopardises his ability to collect his full pension benefits.

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His removal could add to the turmoil that has enveloped the FBI since Comey’s firing and as the FBI continues its Trump campaign investigation that the White House has dismissed as a hoax.

The firing arises from an inspector general review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. That inquiry focused not only on specific decisions made by FBI leadership but also on news media leaks.

McCabe came under scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. 

The watchdog office has concluded that McCabe authorised FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for that story and that McCabe had not been forthcoming with investigators. McCabe denies it.

In his statement, McCabe said he had the authority to share information with journalists through the public affairs office, a practice he said was common and continued under the current FBI director, Christopher Wray. 

McCabe said he honestly answered questions about whom he had spoken to and when, and that when he thought his answers were misunderstood, he contacted investigators to correct them.

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The media outreach came at a time when McCabe said he was facing public accusations of partisanship and followed reports that his wife, during a run for the state Senate in Virginia, had received campaign contributions from a Clinton ally. 

McCabe suggested in his statement that he was trying to “set the record straight” about the FBI’s independence against the background of those allegations.

With the FBI disciplinarians recommending the firing, Justice Department leaders were in a difficult situation.

Sessions, whose job status has for months appeared shaky under his own blistering criticism from Trump, risked inflaming the White House if he decided against firing McCabe.

But a decision to dismiss McCabe days before his retirement nonetheless carried the risk of angering his rank-and-file supporters at the FBI.

McCabe became acting director following the firing last May of Comey, and immediately assumed direct oversight of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

He quickly found himself at odds with the Trump administration.