March 17, 2018
March 17, 2018
John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, called for Mueller probe to end ‘on the merits in light of recent revelations’
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote memos describing his conversations with President Donald Trump and other events and has turned them over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a person close to Mr. McCabe said Saturday.
The memos, written soon after the events they describe, cover Mr. McCabe’s dealings with the White House and what former FBI Director James Comey told Mr. McCabe about his interactions, according to the person.
That revelation came amid increasingly contentious exchanges Saturday between President Trump and some of the country’s most senior former law-enforcement and national security officials, sparked by Mr. McCabe’s dismissal late Friday.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions terminated Mr. McCabe two days before his scheduled retirement, saying internal investigators found Mr. McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and “lacked candor” on multiple occasions.
Mr. Trump, in his third tweet on the subject since Friday night, said Saturday afternoon that Mr. McCabe was “caught, called out and fired.” “How many lies? How many leaks?” Mr. Trump said, adding that former FBI Director James Comey “knew it all, and much more!”
Nine minutes later, Mr. Comey responded on Twitter saying, “the American people will hear my story very soon.” He has a book scheduled to be released next month. “They can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” Mr. Comey said.
Mr. Comey himself was fired last May, in an episode that is now under investigation by Mr. Mueller. Mr. Comey testified last year he kept memos of his interactions with Mr. Trump and that he felt Mr. Trump had pressured him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The volleys Saturday began when Mr. Trump’s personal legal team called for the Justice Department to end the special counsel’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, after the department fired a senior official who at one time had been involved in looking at that and other politically charged matters.
The lawyer, John Dowd, said he wasn’t calling on the department to fire Mr. Mueller, but rather to end the investigation “on the merits in light of recent revelations.”
Mr. McCabe’s termination immediately spurred furious debate over whether the firing was merited or was an attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation, possibly by casting doubt on the credibility of Mr. McCabe, a potential witness. Mr. McCabe, who was deputy to Mr. Comey, had been removed from his deputy post in January and was due to retire on Sunday.
Mr. Sessions said Friday night that he had terminated Mr. McCabe’s employment “effective immediately” after an “extensive and fair investigation.” Mr. Sessions said both the inspector general and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Mr. McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure and lacked candor when he spoke under oath on “multiple occasions.”
Mr. McCabe on Friday night said he was fired and his pension threatened because he could corroborate Mr. Comey’s account of interactions with the president.
Mr. Trump said on Twitter Friday night that the action against Mr. McCabe marked a “great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”
Others saw Mr. Sessions’s firing of Mr. McCabe as aimed at the Mueller investigation. “Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel,’’ Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter.
In scathing remarks, John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama and an official in the George W. Bush administration, said on Twitter that Mr. Trump would be seen as a “disgraced demagogue,’’ adding, “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America.”
Mr. McCabe, in a lengthy statement, strongly disputed the allegations, saying that he had the authority to share the information with a reporter and that he “answered questions truthfully and as accurately” as he could “amidst the chaos that surrounded” him. His lawyer said the disciplinary process was rushed and completed “in a little over a week.”
Mr. Dowd, the president’s lawyer, on Saturday called for the Justice Department to follow Mr. Sessions’s “brilliant and courageous example” in firing Mr. McCabe and “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss, James Comey.”
Mr. Dowd directed his call to end the Russia investigation at Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who appointed Mr. Mueller last year after Mr. Sessions recused himself from the matter.
Mr. Dowd said he was speaking for himself, not the president. Earlier Saturday, he had told the Daily Beast he was issuing the statement on the president’s behalf.
Mr. Trump has been eager to see the investigation wrap up as quickly as possible, describing it as a distraction that is hurting the country. His lawyers have repeatedly laid out public time lines by which they expected the investigation to end, with expected end points that have come and gone.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with Mr. Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Tensions will be on further display in coming weeks.
The Justice Department’s inspector general, or in-house watchdog, is expected to issue a report by the end of April that examines the bureau’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement that is likely to be critical of the FBI and some of its officials. Meanwhile, a book by James Comey, the former FBI director fired by Mr. Trump, is due out on April 17, and it is expected to take sharp aim at the president and his conduct.
The findings into Mr. McCabe’s alleged misconduct deal with an Oct. 30, 2016, report in The Wall Street Journal about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, the Journal previously reported.