Politics

McCabe: Hill leaders didn't object to Trump investigation

'I told Congress what we had done'

(CNN) - Congressional leadership did not object when former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe informed them that the FBI had opened a counter-intelligence investigation into President Donald Trump, McCabe said Tuesday.

"I told Congress what we had done," McCabe told NBC's Savannah Guthrie on the "Today" show. "That's the important part here, Savannah: no one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts."

In his new book, "The Threat," McCabe briefly explains that on May 17, 2017 -- the same day Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller -- McCabe informed a bipartisan group of top lawmakers, known as the "Gang of 8," about the case files opened on four individuals connected to the Trump campaign and some "additional steps" the FBI had taken, but he did not elaborate in the book.

However, his Tuesday morning admission that he had briefed the Gang of 8 on Trump specifically was a step further, confirming that Republican members like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan and former House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes all were aware that Trump was personally under investigation -- and the justification for it -- since May 2017.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe almost a year ago in March 2018, just two days short of his retirement, following regular mocking by Trump during his tenure in office.

McCabe took over as acting FBI director after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. When Sessions fired McCabe, McCabe issued a scathing response claiming that his dismissal was part of a larger effort to discredit the FBI and the special counsel's investigation.

Additionally, in an interview with The Atlantic that published on Tuesday, McCabe said that investigators' concerns about Trump "and whether or not he posed a national-security threat" had been "building for some time" before Trump fired Comey.

"I could see how that would fit if we had initiated this concern in the wake of Jim's firing. The fact is, we were building to this point for months before Jim was fired," McCabe said.

He added: "But it was the events around the firing that kind of sealed the deal for me and the folks on the team."

McCabe told CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday that investigators had zeroed on a number of Trump's public statements and behavior leading up to and after Comey firing -- including Trump's meeting with Russian officials where he reportedly disclosed classified information and said firing Comey relieved "great pressure," an event McCabe calls "confounding" in The Atlantic piece.

He has not articulated what other intelligence FBI officials were purportedly evaluating at the time.

When asked if he believes Trump is still a "target" in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, McCabe told The Atlantic: "So do I think the case into Trump is open or closed? There's absolutely no reason for me to believe that it's closed."


Editor Notes

This Just In