Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with McCabe on Russia probe

The Senate Judiciary Committee is postponing a hearing with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after several GOP members were either diagnosed with or possibly exposed to the coronavirus.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) formally announced Monday that the hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, had been postponed. The panel did not immediately say when it would be rescheduled. 

The decision comes as four Republican members of the committee are out of Washington: Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have tested positive for the coronavirus, while Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) are working remotely after having possibly been exposed. 

McCabe had been expected to testify as part of Graham's months-long probe into "Crossfire Hurricane," the name of the FBI's investigation of Russia's election meddling and the Trump campaign, as well as the subsequent investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller.

The formal notice from Graham comes after McCabe said over the weekend that he would not testify before the committee given the uptick in coronavirus cases in the Capitol, which does not have a formal testing program. Graham, as part of a committee vote earlier this year, has the power to subpoena McCabe.

"Mr. McCabe was still prepared to testify voluntarily and in person on October 6 as recently as the latter part of this past week. However, since that time, it has been reported that at least two members of your Committee - Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis - have tested positive for Covid-19, and it may well be that other members of the Committee and staff who plan to attend the hearing will test positive between now and then, or may have been exposed to the virus and may be a carrier," Michael R. Bromwich, McCabe's attorney, wrote to Graham.

Bromwich added that because of "fairness," McCabe was also unwilling to appear before the committee remotely. Former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates both testified remotely, while former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified in person.

"A fair and appropriate hearing of this kind - which is complex and contentious - simply cannot be conducted other than in person," he added.

The Senate had been expected to be in session this week but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will try to adjourn the Senate until Oct. 19, minus brief pro forma sessions, after Lee, Tillis and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) announced late last week that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

In addition to Cruz and Sasse, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is also quarantining because he met with Lee last week.

McCabe's refusal to testify on Tuesday comes as Republicans are moving forward with their plan to start Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12.

Both Cruz and Sasse have said they will return to the Senate in time for the hearings, and Barrett is expected to testify in person.

Updated at 11:06 a.m.