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Andrew McCabe Says the FBI Discussed a Plan to Remove Trump From Office

The former FBI director described the pressure to protect the Russia investigation after Trump fired James Comey, and notes the 25th Amendment has been on the table

Andrew McCabeSessions and Price Announce Health Care Takedown at Justice Department, Washington, USA - 13 Jul 2017Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, waits to speak at a press conference to announce the results from the Justice Department's annual national health care fraud takedown at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, USA, 13 July 2017. They said it was the largest criminal health care takedown in US history.

FBI Director Andrew McCabe, waits to speak at a press conference to announce the results from the Justice Department's annual national health care fraud takedown at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, USA, 13 July 2017.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Update: A spokesperson for McCabe released a statement on Friday claiming that comments McCabe made about discussing the 25th amendment have been “misrepresented.”

Original text below.

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Last month, the New York Times reported that after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation to determine if the president was working on behalf of Russia. It was quite the bombshell.

The man who would have launched such an investigation was Andrew McCabe, who took the reins of the FBI following Comey’s ouster only to have Trump replace him with Christopher Wray three months later. McCabe has mostly stayed silent since he left the bureay, but on Sunday he will appear on 60 Minutes to promote his new book, The Threat. On Thursday, 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley said on CBS The Morning that the short-lived FBI director not only confirmed that he launched a counterintelligence investigation into the president, but that the FBI discussed whether it was possible to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment, which outlines a process for a president to be stripped of his powers should he be deemed unfit to serve.

“There were meetings at the Justice Department, in 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,” said Pelley. “These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. The highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.”

McCabe also described the sense of urgency among FBI officials following Comey’s firing, and that he felt it necessary to take action immediately after it happened. He feared that unless he fortified the Russia investigation, there was a danger it could be abandoned if he were to be removed from his post and replaced with someone loyal to the president.

“I 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,” said McCabe. “I was very concerned [about putting] the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion [so that if] I were removed quickly or reassigned or fired, the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace. I wanted to make sure our case was on solid ground 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 made that decision.”

Around the same time Pelley previewed his interview with McCabe, The Atlantic published an excerpt from The Threat. It, too, contained several revelations regarding the days that followed Comey’s firing. McCabe writes of how puzzled he was to receive a call on an insecure phone line from “Don Trump” the day after Comey’s firing. “You know — boy, it’s incredible, it’s such a great thing, people are really happy about the fact that the director’s gone, and it’s just remarkable what people are saying. Have you seen that? Are you seeing that, too?” McCabe remembers the president saying. “I received hundreds of messages from FBI people — how happy they are that I fired him. There are people saying things on the media, have you seen that? What’s it like there in the building?”

This concerned McCabe not only because FBI employees were dismayed by the firing, but because it presidents don’t typically converse with FBI officials, as investigations need to be carried out without any “suspicion that someone who wields power has put a thumb on the scale.” Also distressing was the president’s fury that Comey was allowed to fly home on a government plane. “The president flew off the handle,” McCabe writes. “That’s not right! I don’t approve of that! That’s wrong! He reiterated his point five or seven times.”

The reason for the call, however, was to invite McCabe to the White House to discuss the idea of Trump visiting the FBI to reassure employees of his support for the bureau. McCabe thought this was a terrible idea, but, later that day, while sitting in the Oval Office with Trump, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and then-legal counsel Don McGhan, he felt pressured to endorse it. Like Comey did in his 2018 book A Higher Loyalty, McCabe likened Trump’s tactics to that of a crime boss.

“In this moment, I felt the way I’d felt in 1998, in a case involving the Russian Mafia, when I sent a man I’ll call Big Felix in to meet with a Mafia boss named Dimitri Gufield,” McCabe writes. “The same kind of thing was happening here, in the Oval Office. Dimitri had wanted Felix to endorse his protection scheme. This is a dangerous business, and it’s a bad neighborhood, and you know, if you want, I can protect you from that. If you want my protection. I can protect you. Do you want my protection? The president and his men were trying to work me the way a criminal brigade would operate.”

“Don Trump” also seemed to be sending a message to McCabe on the phone, when he brought up his wife’s failed Virginia state Senate campaign, describing her as “a loser.”

It was all but guaranteed that Trump would attack McCabe within hours of the CBS This Morning briadcast. Along with Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr and a handful of others, McCabe is a fixture of the president’s routine attacks on the Justice Department. Trump lashed out at the latest former official to make their way into the news a few minutes before 10 a.m., right in the meaty part of Executive Time.

“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. I.G. report on McCabe was devastating,” Trump tweeted. “Part of ‘insurance policy’ in case I won. Many of the top FBI brass were fired, forced to leave, or left. McCabe’s wife received BIG DOLLARS from Clinton people for her campaign – he gave Hillary a pass. McCabe is a disgrace to the FBI and a disgrace to our Country. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

It goes without saying that McCabe and the president hold different opinions of how to make the United States great.

“People do not appreciate how far we have fallen from normal standards of presidential accountability,” McCabe writes in The Threat. “Today we have a president who is willing not only to comment prejudicially on criminal prosecutions but to comment on ones that potentially affect him. He does both of these things almost daily. He is not just sounding a dog whistle. He is lobbying for a result. The president has stepped over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he has encountered them. Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants. If he were ‘on the box’ at Quantico, he would break the machine.”

This post has been updated.

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