Gowdy walks back hints that FBI deputy could be on the way out

Gowdy walks back hints that FBI deputy could be on the way out
© Greg Nash

Several hours into an interview with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father Overnight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' Flynn told associate Russia sanctions would be ‘ripped up’ early in Trump presidency MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday threw cold water on his own speculation that McCabe’s days at the bureau might be short-lived.

In an interview last week, Gowdy told Fox News he would be “a little bit surprised if [McCabe’s] still an employee of the FBI this time next week” — setting off a firestorm of speculation that his firing might be imminent.

As late as Tuesday morning, Gowdy told reporters that "it's not 2 o'clock yet" and "I hope he's there at 2" when asked if he believed McCabe should remain at the FBI. His remark appeared to suggest that McCabe could be on his way out before his scheduled interview.

But Gowdy told The Hill his remarks were based on nothing more than McCabe’s request to reschedule an interview that had been set for last week. In the past, he said, such circumstances have resulted in barriers to witness testimony.

McCabe on Tuesday convinced Gowdy that the scheduling snafu was nothing more than “a good faith error,” he said. The deputy director was always planning on appearing today, he said, and “I take him at his word.”

Asked by The Hill if he was hinting that McCabe would be dismissed or resign from the bureau by Tuesday, Gowdy said, “I probably was, but I was probably wrong.”

“Fairness is not always rewarded in my line of work, but I probably should have waited to hear his side of it,” he said.

McCabe arrived at the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon to face a grilling from the House Intelligence Committee on a number of Republican priorities, including how the bureau may have used a controversial dossier of opposition research into then-candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE; and alleged bias at the FBI.

“Andrew McCabe cuts across every facet of every investigation in 2016 that your viewers are interested in from Secretary [Hillary] Clinton’s emails to the investigation into the Trump campaign,” Gowdy told Fox News on Tuesday.

McCabe, a career appointee under former Director James Comey, has long been a Republican target, in part because of political donations his wife received from Democratic Virginia governor and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe.

But McCabe skyrocketed back into the public view after a series of texts from a former member of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team became public. He disparaged political figures of both parties in the texts, including Trump, whom he once called him an “idiot.”

In another one of the texts, the agent, Peter Strzok, seems to refer to an “insurance policy” against Trump winning the 2016 election.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok texted on Aug. 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” 

Some reporting has since suggested that Strzok was urging a thorough pursuit of the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, underway since July.

Heightening the speculation launched by Gowdy's original remarks, a handful of other Republicans have called for McCabe to either be replaced — a long-held desire of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa) — or subpoenaed to appear before Congress to address what some GOP members see as anti-Trump bias within the FBI.

“The chairman of the Judiciary Committee is going to subpoena Lisa Page,” Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (R-Ohio) told Fox Business Network on Tuesday, referring to the woman to whom Strzok sent the texts. “He’s going to subpoena Peter Strzok, and we’re also going to get eventually to Andrew McCabe, as well. 

"We need those people to come in, to be deposed and to put those people on the same stand that [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions and [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein sat on in the past few weeks.”