I haven’t written much, if anything about former FBI director Andrew McCabe’s series interviews promoting his upcoming new book, but the big reveal from it all is that McCabe ordered a counterintelligence investigation into Trump early in the presidency. Not surprising in one sense, given Trump’s firing of James Comey, etc.
But there was an interesting wrinkle to the story. McCabe appeared on the TODAY show this morning and told host Savannah Guthrie that he informed the Gang of Eight after he authorized a counterintelligence investigation of the president of the United States in May 2017. The Gang of Eight is a select group of senior congressional leaders that includes the Senate Majority and Minority leaders, the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, and the chairs and ranking minority members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
This is important because it means that Republican Party leaders Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Sen. Richard Burr, and Rep. Mike Conaway have known that the president was being investigated for his potential threat to national security for nearly two years. It’s unclear what then-House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes may have known since he was forcibly but temporarily recused from oversight of the Russia investigation in May 2017.
According to McCabe, no member of the Gang of Eight raised any objections at the time: “not on legal grounds, constitutional grounds or based on the facts.”
President Trump had just fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, and then admitted on national television that he had done it because he didn’t like being investigated over his ties to Russia. He had just had a meeting in the Oval Officewith Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister where he had informed them that he’d fired Comey and thereby lifted the pressure off himself. In that meeting, he had also shared sensitive intelligence about Syria that had been provided on a confidential basis by Israel. It must have been nearly impossible for anyone to object to the FBI looking into what may have been behind the president’s bizarre behavior.
One thing this revelation helps explain is why Republican congressional leaders have never given the president any cover to fire Robert Mueller. It’s true that they have stubbornly refused calls to formally protect Mueller, but they’ve also made it clear in public and in private that there would be hell to pay if Trump tried to terminate him or his investigation. On the Senate side, they have pursued their own investigation in a way that has been less than rigorous but still more dogged than it had to be. For the most part, the Democrats have not cried foul.
I took these cues to mean that there were real concerns about Trump’s relationship with Russia among the Republican leadership in Congress, and now I know why. They knew that the intelligence community was highly suspicious and was investigating. They obviously did not let on to the public or their base, and on the House side the investigation was a complete sham, especially once Devin Nunes ended his recusal and resumed control. Even so, the investigation has persisted because Republican leaders have insisted that it continue.
This is a strange kind of Deep State coup.