Thursday, May 11, 2017

Should Andrew McCabe Take Over FBI Investigation? Probably Not

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Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe - probably has lots of 'splainin' to do about why he went to the White House on Feb. 15 and blabbed that a fully confirmed NY Times story was "BS".

With the "thuggish firing" of former FBI Director James Comey, ambushed while he was giving a speech in LA, the Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe has taken his place. It is also understood that he will be grilled by Senators before being allowed to take over the investigation into the Trump-Russia links and collusion.

McCabe by all appearances seems to conform to the straight up, "respectable Bureau man" as portrayed in much of the media. On the face of it he'd also appear to be a shoo-in to not only take over Comey's job as Director but also to lead the FBI investigation into Trump's surrogates and their contacts with the Russkies.

But first he has a lot of explaining to do regarding an improper visit to the White House on February 15th and in a five minute session with Reince Priebus definitely not acting like a respected Bureau man. Unless that means undermining your Director's investigation into the collusion of the Trumpies with the Russkies.

Recall that on February 14th the Times broke a block buster story with the header:

"Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence"

With the intro emphasis:

"The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the calls between Mr. Trump's associates and the Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance. ....After that, the FBI asked the NSA to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed."

This bombshell news came out one day after the Mike Flynn resignation and ought to have stopped news -reading citizens in their tracks.

Then, on February 15th, an anomalous event occurred that now seems to have been swept under the deluge of recent news stories. That is, the then deputy director of the FBI - Andrew McCabe - went to the White House for a 7:30 a.m. meeting on what was reportedly an "unrelated intelligence matter'. At the end of the meeting, McCabe - according to reports from observers- had a private "pull aside" with the WH chief of staff, Reince Priebus.  The chat lasted five minutes. According to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the meeting, McCabe told Priebus "I want you to know that story in the New York Times is BS."

That doesn't conform to a respectable official or "20 year Bureau man"  who has to know there's an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence.  Indeed, in many quarters it'd not only be called improper but obstruction of justice - because he's putting the kibosh on the investigation.  In fact, no one in the FBI,, and especially the deputy director, should be talking to the White House staff about already confirmed reports that now compromise the investigation.

Indeed, the McCabe contact led to compromises of the two other (House and Senate) investigations into Trump and Russia.  To wit, the White House then enlisted the services of the respective Intel chairs - Devin Nunez and Richard Burr - to start calling reporters of all the major news outlets to steer other reporters away from the Times' bombshell story.  That was significant because the pair weren't merely run of the mill members of congress but actual heads of the respective intelligence committees.

In addition, the pair were leading their own investigations into the White House- Russian connections.

So McCabe's blabbery had untold negative consequences that in truth and fact, seen in hindsight, really did reach the level of obstruction of justice because it diverted the resources - especially informational -from the prime focus where it should have been. So yeah, Andy Mc Cabe has a lot to explain in any hearings - before being handed the throttle for Comey's investigation. A 20-year vet he may be, but his actions were those of a rank, greenhorn new be just out of Quantico.

The bottom line is that McCabe's mischief did untold harm, especially as the NY Times' story was emphatically not "BS' but also confirmed by CNN later that night, e.g.

"Trump Aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign"

And the Washington Post was next: "U.S. Intelligence sources cite multiple contacts between members of Trump's team and Russians with links to the Kremlin."

By March multiple source confirmation had manifest, much of them forthcoming from U.S. allies, including the British and the Dutch. These had provided compendious information, data describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials and associates of then President-elect Donald Trump. This is the "shoe' - a titanic one - waiting to drop, and the GOP congress critters and others (McCabe?) resisting or undermining the investigations better make sure they're on the right side of things when it does.

As for McCabe, if he can't provide substantial answers to questions in any forthcoming hearings, then he can't be allowed to direct the FBI investigation.  He will especially have to perform at an A-plus level in addressing why he told Priebus the Times story was BS, effectively obstructing 3 ongoing investigations- including the FBI's, the House and the Senate's - for months. And indeed, we will need to consider an independent approach (special prosecutor?)  for the other investigations if  McCabe's answers leave much to be desired. Also, if GOP cooperative solutions aren't possible, most of which will require GOP members' full cooperation as opposed to stonewalling or chasing "leaks" to deflect the focus. As for McCabe, it will now be up to him to demonstrate  he isn't a Trump toady.  I am not at all certain that he can, given the damage his big mouth has already caused.

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