The embarrassing return of Andrew McCabe

The slapping sounds you heard Thursday were the many face palms of current and former FBI agents as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community Trump allies assembled lists of officials considered disloyal to president: report Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn MORE resurfaced like an oil slick to inflict yet more embarrassment on the beleaguered bureau. But he has written a book and books must be sold and, so, here we go.

This Sunday he’ll tick … tick … tick … with “60 Minutes.” Any day now he’ll be caressed on “The View” and other bumper-padded shows. A proven liar, he’ll explain to us why former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeySurveillance fight emerges as intelligence flashpoint Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn Comey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinAttorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation DOJ won't charge former FBI Deputy Director McCabe MORE are liars. He will peddle shameful stories about shameful actions for shameful money.  


In teasers from his “60 Minutes” interview, we learn new details about old events. If McCabe thinks his latest admissions are going to put him in a better light, then he just further validated the poor judgment skills that were a hallmark of his time at the top of the FBI.

Let’s start with his incredibly nonsensical answer to the “60 Minutes” reporter’s incredibly mistaken question. McCabe was asked why he opened obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations “involving” President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE after meeting with the president shortly after Comey was fired.

McCabe doesn’t bother to clarify that he initiated only an obstruction of justice case at that point. As everyone else except, apparently, “60 Minutes” knows, a counterintelligence investigation of possible “links” between the Trump campaign and Russia was opened by Comey at least eight months prior.  

In his rambling answer, McCabe implies that he started the obstruction case because he wanted to ensure that the counterintelligence case wouldn’t somehow go away if he were fired. Okay, at this point we have to take a timeout: If FBI agents’ heads could explode and, in doing so, made a sound — that’s the sound you would hear right now. Set aside the breathtaking hubris; it just doesn’t work that way in the FBI. Opened cases don’t “disappear” because someone leaves the bureau, and McCabe knows it. It’s a stupid answer designed to sell books, not tell the truth.

Plus, speculation about what might happen certainly is not adequate justification for opening a criminal obstruction of justice investigation of anyone, let alone a sitting president. In order to open such a case, McCabe normally would have to articulate reasonable facts that an actual crime has been or is about to be committed; his speculation and personal feelings don’t cut it. Besides that, there was likely nothing to obstruct. It was a counterintelligence, not a criminal, investigation. He misused his position and authority, and he knows it.

But wait, there’s painfully more. According to the “60 Minutes” reporter, McCabe verified a months-old New York Times story based on an anonymous source (most likely former FBI general counsel James Baker) that discussions were held among McCabe, Rosenstein and other senior Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI officials about removing the president via the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.

McCabe reportedly will assert during his “60 Minutes” interview that Rosenstein, in all seriousness, wanted to record the president, without his knowledge, to gather information material to the president’s capacity to perform his duties. Rosenstein, you see, was upset — according to McCabe — that the president had fired Comey. This, despite the fact that Rosenstein authored the memorandum justifying and recommending Comey’s firing. Makes perfect sense, right?

Let’s be clear: Apart from the attorney general as a member of the president’s cabinet, the rest of the DOJ and, especially, the FBI have zero role in determining the applicability of the 25th Amendment. This reads like constitutional amateur hour.

The mere presence of an FBI acting director in such a meeting, let alone his active participation, is a monumental misuse of position, betrayal of the trust of the American people, and humiliating embarrassment to the dedicated rank and file of the FBI.

McCabe, like his equally duplicitous mentor and fellow book peddler Comey, apparently hopes to portray himself as a solitary moral bulwark against a corrupt, compromised president. He hopes further that we avert our eyes from his family ties to opposition party politics and big money, his abuse of FBI policies, attorney general guidelines and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, and his choice to lie to internal FBI investigators to protect himself.

His is a self-referential morality. It infected the FBI like a virus for a time and did its damage. But the bureau will heal because it is a noble ideal larger than any flawed leader.

Perhaps McCabe and Comey could yet sanctify their book lucre by donating all proceeds to an existing scholarship fund for children of FBI agents who died in the line of duty. Agents who died in the pursuit of a higher morality. Who died in the pursuit of truth.  

Or would they consider that to be obstruction of personal enrichment?

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He is a founder and principal of NewStreet Global Solutions, which consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.