In the midst of nearly 14 hours of intense, heated testimony before the House Intelligence Committee this week, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe claimed that his former boss, James Comey, told him about being asked for a loyalty oath by Donald Trump during a dinner with the president early in 2017. His statement seems to add credence to Comey’s own testimony before the committee this past June. Comey’s conversations about the episode with McCabe and other agents within the FBI could also be an integral part of any obstruction of justice charge the Robert Mueller investigation might bring against Trump.
According to an article in The Hill, Comey had testified in June that Trump had called him to a private dinner while Comey was still head of the FBI and pressed him for a personal oath of loyalty on two occasions during the meal. Comey claims he responded that he could give Trump “honesty loyalty,” meaning that he would promise to respond to the president truthfully, if not always in lockstep with Trump’s wishes. Comey was fired by the president shortly after this dinner was said to have taken place. Donald Trump has vehemently and repeatedly denied that he asked Comey for a loyalty pledge.
McCabe’s testimony is the first that has been publicly revealed that could corroborate Comey’s statement.
The testimony by the FBI deputy director occurred in the middle of what has become a firestorm of criticism by congressional Republicans and Trump-friendly media such as Fox News of both the Mueller investigation and the FBI in general. McCabe has been caught up in this to the point that there has been a Republican outcry that he be removed from his job. According to a number of commenters on Twitter, McCabe’s testimony could make it very difficult for Trump to fire him at this point without embroiling the president further in obstruction of justice charges.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is a witness to the Russia investigation who testified before Congress. Any attempt to fire him is obstruction of justice; it is unlawful. We must protect the men and women who serve in law enforcement and our Intel Community. They protect us.
— Alexandra Chalupa (@AlexandraChalup) December 22, 2017
According to a CNN article, Deputy Director McCabe was also grilled by House Republicans on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal leading up to the 2016 presidential election and their handling of the now infamous Steele Dossier, which was the first piece of evidence that purportedly documented the Donald Trump campaign’s ties to Russian attempts to influence the election. Republicans in both the House and the Senate have appeared recently to be more in agreement with the president’s assessment that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” and should be shut down.
Democrats and commentators on the left have countered that Mueller and the FBI are merely doing their jobs competently and honorably, and that the Republicans are engaged in an effort to discredit the investigation for political reasons.
Democratic Rep. Jim Himes says he fears President Trump will try to remove FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying the President "has slandered this individual … with absolutely zero evidence" https://t.co/eev1T0SRcx pic.twitter.com/O87J5eeuDj
— CNN (@CNN) December 22, 2017
There has been much speculation recently that Trump plans to fire Mueller, although the president has denied this is true. Sources close to Mueller have reported that the investigation is far from over and could, in fact, continue through all of 2018 and beyond.