During his Senate testimony today, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicted the White House version of events leading up to FBI Director James Comey‘s firing. McCabe said that the FBI still respected Comey in the days before he was fired on Tuesday. That doesn’t line up with the White House, which claimed that Comey lost the respect of rank-and-file FBI agents. McCabe also contradicted the White House’s statement that the Russia investigation isn’t significant.
“Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
That contradicts what Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday during a press briefing. “The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey,” Sanders saidd. “The DOJ lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
McCabe also told the committee that there hadn’t been any direct “effort to impede” the investigation into possible ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. “You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution,” McCabe said.
McCabe also said he disagrees with Sanders’ statement that the Russia investigation isn’t a priority for the FBI.
“That’s probably one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate, and the 20,000 employees that work there,” Sanders said of the Russia investigation. McCabe disagreed, calling the investigation “highly significant.”
He also said that he couldn’t talk about the conversations between the president and Comey that Trump mentioned in the termination letter. Trump wrote that Comey told him on “three separate occasions” that he is “not under investigation.” But what Trump was referring to remains unclear.
“I can’t comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president,” McCabe said during his testimony.
Politico previously reported hours after Comey was fired that many agents were stunned by the news, which they learned from TV reports or the Internet. “I’m literally in tears right now. That’s all I have to say,” a longtime special agent told the site.
“We just have no idea why this happened. No idea,” another agent who worked with Comey told Politico. “No one knew this was coming. Everyone is just shocked that this happened.”