Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s interview with Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired on Feb. 15.
McCabe played a pivotal role in what has become known as Spygate. He directed the activities of FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, provided an early approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and was involved in all aspects of the Russia investigation. He was also mentioned in the now-infamous “insurance policy” text message sent by Strzok to Lisa Page.
Notably missing from the “60 Minutes” interview was any mention of these and other critical components regarding McCabe’s involvement in the investigation into alleged Trump–Russia collusion. Specifically, there were no questions asked regarding the following:
• McCabe’s ongoing criminal investigation before a grand jury
• The role of FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, who was special counsel to McCabe
• The use of the so-called Steele dossier as the primary piece of evidence in the Page FISA application, despite the fact that the information was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign
• The infamous “insurance policy” text, which references a meeting held in McCabe’s office between McCabe, Strzok, and Page
• The role of Justice Department (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr, who provided information from former British spy Christopher Steele to McCabe and the FBI
• The FBI’s sudden attempts at re-engagement with Steele in the days immediately following the firing of FBI Director James Comey
• The criminal leak investigation into former FBI General Counsel James Baker
McCabe claimed he was fired “because I opened a case against the president of the United States.”
This is patently untrue. McCabe was fired on March 16, 2018, for lying to both the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and to the DOJ’s inspector general. According to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, McCabe lied three times under oath—and also lied to then-FBI Director James Comey—regarding his authorization of leaks to The Wall Street Journal.
On May 9, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a memo to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recommending that Comey be fired. The subject of the letter was “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” Nowhere in the letter is the Russia investigation mentioned. Comey would be fired that day.
That same day, McCabe was being interviewed by agents from the FBI’s Inspection Division (INSD) regarding media leaks that occurred in an Oct. 30, 2016, Wall Street Journal article, “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe,” by Devlin Barrett.
McCabe would lie to INSD agents regarding his participation in the leaks, as later disclosed in a report by the inspector general. He is currently the subject of a grand jury investigation.
In the process of uncovering McCabe’s deception, the IG also would discover the massive series of text messages sent between Strzok and Lisa Page. McCabe had specifically denied to the IG that he provided Page, his special counsel, permission to leak to Barrett. This was untrue, as McCabe had directly authorized Page to share information with Barrett–and Page did so thinking she had been granted legal/official authorization to do so.
Page, when confronted by the IG with McCabe’s denials, produced texts refuting the deputy FBI director’s claim.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility made the recommendation to fire McCabe, but it was Rosenstein who fast-tracked McCabe’s firing process. According to the FBI’s OPR, the bureau would have been unable to reach a formal resolution before McCabe’s retirement on March 18, 2018, without intervention from the deputy attorney general.
McCabe responded to his firing with a statement that contained the claim that Comey had been aware of McCabe’s leaks to Barrett:
“The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.”
But there was a problem with McCabe’s response. On May 3, 2017, Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Sen. Grassley: “Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
Mr. Comey: “Never.”
Sen. Grassley: “Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
Mr. Comey: “No.”
Comey’s testimony directly disputed McCabe’s claims.
During the “60 Minutes” interview, McCabe referenced his memos detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump at several points. McCabe, however, had already discussed these interactions during a congressional hearing regarding the FBI’s 2018 fiscal budget on June 21, 2017, where he testified that all his meetings with the president occurred with many other witnesses in attendance:
“I have met with President Trump on very few occasions, and those have all been occasions where there were many other people present. I have not felt uncomfortable in those meetings.”
Rosenstein’s Appointment of Mueller
On the morning of May 16, 2017, Rosenstein allegedly suggested to McCabe that he secretly record Trump. This remark was reported in a New York Times article that was sourced from memos from the now-fired McCabe. Rosenstein immediately issued a statement denying the accusations.
The alleged comments by Rosenstein occurred at a meeting where McCabe was “pushing for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the president.” Note that just five days earlier, on May 11, McCabe had publicly testified before Congress that there was no obstruction, stating, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
Sen. Rubio: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, can you without going into the specifics of any individual investigation, I think the American people want to know, has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped or negatively impacted any of the work, any investigation, or any ongoing projects at the Federal Bureau of Investigations?”
Mr. McCabe: “As you know, Senator, the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions. So there has been no effort to impede our investigation today. Quite 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.”
On the one hand, McCabe testified there was no obstruction from Trump, yet, just five days later, McCabe was attempting to convince Rosenstein to go along with his efforts to open an obstruction investigation into the president. Events suggest that McCabe’s efforts were met with alarm from Rosenstein, who responded by appointing Mueller as special counsel. Rosenstein may have also informed Trump of McCabe’s intentions.
At the same time that McCabe was attempting to open an obstruction investigation, Strzok and Page were texting about the lack of evidence of collusion. In a text that Strzok sent to Page, Strzok noted:
“You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I’d be there, no question. I hesitate, in part, because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”
Page was asked about this text during her July 2018 testimony by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas). She initially answered, “So I think this represents that even as far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question.” After a brief consultation with her legal counsel, Page continued: “I think it’s a reflection of us still not knowing. I guess that’s as good as I can answer.”
On May 17, 2017, the day after Rosenstein and Trump met privately with Robert Mueller in the Oval Office at the White House—and the day after Rosenstein’s encounter with McCabe—Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.
The May 17 appointment of Mueller shifted control of the Russia investigation to Mueller from the FBI and McCabe. Rosenstein would retain ultimate authority over the special counsel investigation, and any expansion of Mueller’s probe required authorization from Rosenstein.
In advance of McCabe’s “60 Minutes” interview, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice released a statement that confirmed exactly this—Rosenstein’s actions removed McCabe from the Russia collusion investigation:
“The Deputy Attorney General, in fact, appointed Special Counsel Mueller, and directed that Mr. McCabe be removed from any participation in that investigation.”
Testimony from former FBI General Counsel James Baker has been cited as corroborating McCabe’s version of events, but just like the FBI’s use of an article by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff to corroborate the Steele dossier, Baker’s testimony represented nothing more than circular reporting.
Rep. Meadows: “Were you in the meeting when deputy AG Rod Rosenstein suggested to wiretap or record the President of the United States as has been recently reported allegedly in the McCabe memos?”
Mr. Baker: “I was not at those meetings, but I heard about those meetings.”
Rep. Meadows: “And how did you hear about those meetings?”
Mr. Baker: “I heard about them, I believe, from Andy and from Lisa.”
Meanwhile, it appears that McCabe decided it might be best to distance himself from his reported comments regarding discussions of the 25th Amendment.
On Feb. 15, McCabe’s spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz, issued the following statement:
“Certain statements made by Mr. McCabe, in interviews associated with the release of his book, have been taken out of context and misrepresented. To clarify, at no time did Mr. McCabe participate in any extended discussions about the use of the 25th Amendment, nor is he aware of any such discussions. He was present and participated in a discussion that included a comment by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein regarding the 25th Amendment. This anecdote was not included in ‘The Threat,’ Mr. McCabe has merely confirmed a discussion that was initially reported elsewhere.”
Jeff Carlson is a regular contributor to The Epoch Times. He also runs the website TheMarketsWork.com and can be followed on Twitter @themarketswork.