WASHINGTON — Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said in a Thursday televised interview that he ordered an investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and acknowledged that high-level Justice Department officials discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
McCabe’s revelations — outlined in a piece he published in “The Atlantic” magazine and in a sit-down interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley — sparked condemnation from Trump on Twitter, who called the former career law enforcement officer a “disgrace to the FBI.”
McCabe told Pelley that he grew increasingly concerned that Trump would put an end to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election after the president abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.
A day after Comey’s ouster, McCabe directed top department officials to examine Trump’s ties to Russia, telling Pelley he believed Trump “might have won the White House with the aid of the government of Russia.”
“I wanted to make sure that 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,” McCabe said in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that will fully air on Sunday.
Pelley, previewing the interview on CBS “This Morning,” said McCabe confirmed a September 2018 New York Times report that stated Justice Department officials had discussed the possibility of recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office on the ground that he was allegedly acting against America’s interests with regard to Russia.
“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,” Pelley said. “These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what to do with the president.”
Pelley also said McCabe confirmed a Times report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire in meeting with the president.
The Justice Department pushed back on both of McCabe’s claims in a statement, saying “based on [McCabe’s] personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
“As to the specific portions of this interview provided to the Department of Justice by 60 Minutes in advance, the Deputy Attorney General again rejects Mr. McCabe’s recitation of events as inaccurate and factually incorrect,” the department said in a statement. “The Deputy Attorney General never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references.”
McCabe, whom the president has long targeted on Twitter, was fired by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions last March, a day before his retirement. Sessions cited McCabe’s “lack of candor” for the removal, pointing to a Justice Department Inspector General report that concluded McCabe misled investigators about his disclosure of information to reporters. McCabe has denied the investigation’s findings.
Trump took aim at McCabe in a series of Thursday tweets, saying “Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel,’” while accusing him of being “a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey.”
“McCabe is a disgrace to the FBI and a disgrace to our Country. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!,” Trump wrote.
McCabe’s statements come as he prepares to release a book this month titled “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.”