McCabe Aware of Exculpatory Evidence Before Opening Obstruction Probe Into Trump, Documents Show

January 27, 2021 Updated: January 27, 2021

Then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe was aware of crucial exculpatory evidence regarding the firing of FBI Director James Comey when he opened an obstruction of justice investigation into then-President Donald Trump in mid-May of 2017 over Comey’s removal, according to documents declassified by Trump during his last days in office.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, roughly three weeks after Comey told Congress that the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged links between Moscow and the Trump campaign. McCabe opened an obstruction of justice investigation into Trump a week later, on May 16, 2017, citing Trump’s public comments about the firing as well as Comey’s memos, which stated, among other things, that the president had asked the FBI director for loyalty.

But McCabe was aware, from a conversation with then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein four days earlier, on May 12, 2017, that the Justice Department had been planning to fire Comey since January that year, according to a memo by McCabe obtained by Just The News.

“The DAG stated that based on conversations he had with the AG as early as January 2017, he knew Director Comey was going to get fired,” McCabe wrote in the memo.

One day after McCabe approved the opening of the investigation into Trump, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller completed the investigation nearly two years later, finding no evidence to establish that anyone in the campaign colluded with Russia. In addition, then-Attorney General William Barr concluded that the evidence Mueller collected was insufficient to establish that Trump had obstructed justice.

Among the newly declassified memos is a set of typed notes, in which McCabe described the May 16, 2017, meeting during which he revealed the existence of the Trump probe to Rosenstein. A more redacted version of the memo was previously obtained by Judicial Watch in 2019. The notes had shown that Rosenstein offered to wear a wire to record Trump; Rosenstein has since said he made the offer in jest.

The newly declassified portion of the memo shows that Rosenstein had made the decision to appoint a special counsel a week prior to May 16, 2017, and that the execution of the appointment was thrown off by Comey’s firing. In another declassified portion, McCabe wrote that Rosenstein had looked into removing Trump via the 25th Amendment and had assumed he might have had the support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Trump had considered hiring Kelly for the FBI director position, another newly declassified portion of the memo shows.

McCabe wrote: “The President had requested that they interview Sec. Kelly. The DAG informed the AG that he did not believe Sec. Kelly would be a good candidate for many reasons and stated that making him FBI Director would be a strategy of disruption. The DAG told me that if Sec. Kelly were placed in the job, the DAG would request Sec. Kelly’s resignation.”

An internal review by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General determined that McCabe authorized a self-serving leak to the press and then lied about the matter to cover it up.

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