Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Senate Hart building on Capitol Hill, on June 7, 2017.Cheriss May / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that he ordered an obstruction of justice investigation into President Donald Trump after a conversation with him immediately following former FBI Director James Comey’s firing.
McCabe, who was ousted from the department last March after rising to acting director following Comey’s May 2017 firing, told CBS’s Scott Pelley that he was concerned Trump would try to make the overall investigation into Russian election meddling go away.
“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,” McCabe said. “And that was something that troubled me greatly. “
One day after that conversation, McCabe said he “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,” he said. “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 and reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.”
“I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground,” he continued. “And if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they’d made that decision.”
The initial clip of McCabe’s interview with Pelley aired Thursday on “CBS This Morning.” The full interview will be broadcast on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.”
On “CBS This Morning,” Pelley provided more details about the interview, including McCabe’s description of the aftermath of Comey’s firing, saying there were “meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment.”
“These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel,” he continued. “And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what do with the president.”
Pelley also said McCabe confirmed in the interview that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did consider wearing a wire in meetings with the president. When that information was reported last year, it nearly led to Rosenstein’s exit from the Justice Department. Although a prior Justice Department statement said the proposal was made in jest, McCabe said it was taken seriously, Pelley said.
McCabe “says no, it came up more than once, and it was so serious that he took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it,” Pelley said.
McCabe was fired last year — just before his planned retirement — in the aftermath of a Justice Department inspector general’s report said he misled investigators regarding a leak about the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation, which he denies.
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McCabe says Rosenstein brought up wearing wire more than once
Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe started the obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving President Donald Trump and his ties to Russia because he wanted to ensure the probe was on “solid ground” in case he was fired.
McCabe said in an interview to air on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday that he took the action after speaking to Trump hours after the president fired his boss, former FBI Director James Comey, in May of 2017.
McCabe was fired last March just 26 hours before he was scheduled to retire with a full pension. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe over allegations he had violated the FBI and Justice Department’s policy related to disclosures to the media. He’s responded that he was the target of a political attack by Trump, who has repeatedly slammed the FBI as biased and repeatedly called the Russia probe a “witch hunt.”
“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground and in an indelible fashion” McCabe said in the interview. “That were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.”
CBS correspondent Scott Pelley said McCabe recounted DOJ meetings shortly after Comey’s firing in which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed possibly wearing a wire when talking to Trump about whether the vice president and Cabinet could invoke the Constitution to remove the president from office. The Justice Department in a previous statement said that Rosenstein was being sarcastic.
“I never pursued or authorized recording the president, and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the president is absolutely false,” Rosenstein said in a statement in September.
But McCabe said in the interview that Rosenstein repeated the idea more than once, and the suggestion was taken so seriously that it was brought to lawyers at the FBI.
Rosenstein eventually appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and whether anyone in the Trump campaign was involved. Mueller’s prosecutors have charged more than 30 people as a result of the probe and several have pleaded guilty.
“There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Pelley said on the show. “They were speculating this person would be with us, that person would not be, and they were counting noses in that effort.”
Trump has lashed out repeatedly against the FBI, Comey, and the Russia investigation. Last month, he mounted an angry Twitter response to a New York Times report that the FBI had opened the probe in 2017 to determine if the president had been working, knowingly or unknowingly, on behalf of Russia and against American interests.
Trump said at the time that FBI launched its probe “for no reason and with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze” and termed former leaders of the agency “corrupt.”
An email to the White House seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Thursday, but Trump’s Republican allies sprang to his defense.
“Every American should be outraged,” Republican Representative Devin Nunes of California, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. “Any talk of the 25th Amendment is outrageous.”