Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe revealed in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday that it was in fact the president’s own public words, not secret information, that prompted a counterterrorism probe and investigation of obstruction of justice, CNN reports. McCabe, in the interview, said that President Trump had been speaking of the Russia investigation in a derogatory way for weeks, which officials saw as a potential attempt to undermine the investigation.
Central to the decision to open the investigation were several specific incidents. The first was the request by Trump for former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. Also cited were Comey’s eventual firing and Trump’s ongoing statements linking the firing to the Russia investigation.
The statements align closely with the congressional testimony of former FBI general counsel James Baker, who said that the FBI sought to determine if Trump was, in some way, compromised by or acting at the direction of an outside agent.
“That was one extreme. The other extreme is that the President is completely innocent, and we discussed that too,” Baker continued in his testimony.
“There’s a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don’t know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the President is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with — and so he can move forward with his agenda.”
McCabe noted that throughout Trump’s presidency, he has repeatedly praised Russia and generally behaved toward the country and its leader, President Vladimir Putin, in ways that arise suspicion.
McCabe has been making the rounds to various media outlets of late, largely to promote his new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has been resoundingly dismissive of the book, aggressively criticizing McGabe in a formal statement.
“Andrew McCabe was fired in total disgrace from the FBI because he had lied to investigators on multiple occasions, including under oath,” the statement reads. “His selfish and destructive agenda drove him to open a completely basis investigation into the President.”
Sanders went on to characterize McCabe as shameful and an embarrassment to the FBI.
Sanders’ statement refers to McCabe being dismissed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions following a report concluding he misled investigators about his involvement in an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The case remains under consideration for possible criminal charges with the Justice Department.