Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s two-year Russia collusion probe, which indicated that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, doesn’t mean the investigation was a “waste of time or unwarranted.”
“Am I satisfied? I expect to be satisfied when I get to see the report and I should hope that all people think about it that way, so I think it’s really important to remember that we don’t know yet. We understand how Attorney General Barr has characterized what’s in that 400-page report, but to draw your own conclusions about it, I think, you have to do that only have after you see the report,” McCabe said during a recent discussion hosted by Duke University’s Political Science Department.
“The fact that Director Mueller has supposedly concluded that he found no evidence of collusion, so he didn’t find enough evidence to indicate the existence of a conspiracy at the level that you would need to bring some sort of, I guess, a federal charge, does that mean we shouldn’t have investigated it? Absolutely not. We don’t start investigations driving at a conclusion. We don’t consider investigations to be a waste of time or unwarranted simply because they ended up in a place where you didn’t expect them to end up. You start investigations because you have an obligation to do your job,” he added.
McCabe, author of The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, said the current situation regarding the public release of the Mueller report is similar to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton private email server investigation.
“Now we’re in a very similar situation. We’re struggling with that same idea, like, how much of the detail do you release about people who are not being charged? I’m glad I’m not the attorney general. I don’t have to decide that,” McCabe said. “I do think there is a compelling public interest in understanding what the special counsel team found in one direction or the other. Now, how much of the granularity of people’s identities and things like that do you reveal? That’s a sensitivity that I think DOJ is best positioned to figure out.”
McCabe said the issue of whether or not President Trump obstructed justice is “very different” from the findings on collusion.
“The case we opened on the president was predicated both on the possibility of a national security threat and the possibility that a federal crime, obstruction of justice, may have taken place. And as I have heard from the reporting and from the attorney general’s letter, Director Mueller has not drawn a conclusion on that but presented substantial evidence around that issue,” McCabe said.
“I think that’s important for the American people to know and to understand as everybody makes their own evaluations about how they think the president is performing – that’s what we get to do here in a democracy. I think that’s relevant, important information about, not just any citizen, but the president of the United States. I think the stars are aligning in the direction of compelling public interest,” he added.
Later in the discussion, McCabe criticized Trump, arguing that he does not respect democracy.
“You can certainly draw the conclusion that this president doesn’t either understand or respect our democracy in the way that we understand it. To consistently hold himself above the law like that cuts against an absolute tenant of our society – that’s why we came here and fought the Brits over it. We think that nobody should be above the law, that everybody should be susceptible to the law,” he said.