FBI’s McCabe Opened Russia Probe on Concern Case Might ‘Vanish’

(Bloomberg) -- Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said he 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.

“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 in an excerpt aired on CBS on Thursday. “And that was something that troubled me greatly.”

FBI’s McCabe Opened Russia Probe on Concern Case Might ‘Vanish’

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said, “Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a “poor little Angel” when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax - a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey.”

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 on 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 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 Justice Department 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.

“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.

In a statement to CBS, the Justice Department repeated that Rosenstein “never authorized any recording” but didn’t comment on whether he’d raised the possibility. The Justice Department said in a previous statement that Rosenstein was being sarcastic in bringing up the possibility.

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 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.

McCabe is promoting a book in which he writes about the 2016 election and its aftermath, in addition to his career at the FBI. The CBS interview focused on the days between Comey’s firing and Mueller’s appointment when, according to Pelley, “the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what do with the president."

"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," which provides for the removal of a president who’s found unable to discharge his duties, 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.”

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