Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a “crime may have been committed” when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
McCabe also said in the interview with “60 Minutes” that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
”And the idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, “Why would a president of the United States do that?” McCabe said.
Later, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he intends to investigate whether top officials of the FBI and the Justice Department discussed “an administrative coup” to oust Trump in 2017.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he would issue subpoenas, if necessary, to sort out circumstances that McCabe described in the interview.
In the interview, McCabe said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had raised the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump out of concern for his fitness for office after he had fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
The amendment sets out a process for the Cabinet and Congress to declare a president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Graham noted that Rosenstein, a career Justice Department prosecutor, had “vehemently denied” McCabe’s account of the discussion.
“We’re going to find out what happened here,” Graham said. “The only way I know to find out is to call the people in under oath and find out through questioning who’s telling the truth because the underlying accusation is beyond stunning.”
Graham said McCabe’s remarks amounted to “an allegation by the acting FBI director at the time that the deputy attorney general was basically trying to do an administrative coup.”
Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired Comey for what the president later said was “this Russia thing.”
Rosenstein has said he plans to step down after Mueller files his report on his investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia during or after the 2016 campaign.
On Friday, after excerpts from the “60 Minutes” interview were released, McCabe’s spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz, said “certain statements” made by McCabe had been “taken out of context and misrepresented.”
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March 2018 following a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
Sessions alleged that McCabe had “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media’” and, when questioned about it, “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
McCabe has denied speaking dishonestly and argues he was fired for political reasons.