Nov 10, 2020
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Testimony on Russia Probe Transcript
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before the Senate on November 10 about the investigation into Donald Trump’s ties with Russia. Read the transcript of the hearing below.
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Andrew McCabe: (00:00)
I may not be as precise and accurate as I otherwise would be. I appreciate the committee’s flexibility in conducting this hearing virtually rather than in person. While I continue to believe an in-person appearance is a better vehicle for a fair and vigorous oversight hearing, the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic compels me to be extremely … frontline first responder, who takes care of children and their families in our local emergency room. I try to avoid unnecessary chances of potential exposure that might put her at risk and possibly endanger her ability to continue caring for our community.
Andrew McCabe: (00:42)
In July of 2016, the FBI initiated an investigation code-named Crossfire Hurricane to determine whether an individual or individuals from the Trump presidential campaign might be coordinating with the Russian government to interfere with our 2016 presidential election. The concerns that led to our initiation of this case are well-known. In the fall of 2014, the FBI had begun tracking cyber actors affiliated with Russia who were targeting US political institutions, academic think tanks, and other entities. In the spring of 2016, this activity intensified as new Russian cyber actors invaded computer networks at the Democratic National Committee. At the time, we did not know what they plan to do with the information they were stealing from the DNC but soon we found out.
Andrew McCabe: (01:34)
In July 2016, Russian intelligence agents acting through the online alias Gossifleur 2.0 published hundreds of thousands of emails and other information stolen from the DNC with the intent of damaging Hillary Clinton on the Eve of the Democratic National Convention. This malicious use of stolen information signaled a new level of hostility directed at the heart of American democracy. Several months before this release and unknown to the FBI at that time, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos informed a diplomat from a friendly foreign government that the Trump campaign had “received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton.” It was only after the DNC information was publicly released in July that the diplomat communicated the content of his conversation with Papadopoulos to the United States government.
Andrew McCabe: (02:38)
So what did we know in July 2016? Well, we had known for almost two years that the Russians were targeting our political institutions in cyberspace. By the spring of 2016, we knew the Russians had stolen information from the DNC. By July, we knew the Russians had used that information in a manner designed to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances in the election. And then we learned that before the Russians attacked us an individual from the Trump campaign may have known the attack was coming. FBI policy sets the threshold for opening a full field investigation as the moment when you have information or articulable facts that indicate a threat to national security might exist or that a federal crime might have been committed. In July of 2016, we had both, Russian intelligence services attacking our democratic process, possibly in coordination with the presidential campaign. We opened the case to investigate and try to mitigate that threat and to find out what the Russians might have done.
Andrew McCabe: (03:43)
Let me be very clear. We did not open a case because we liked one candidate or didn’t like the other one. We did not open a case because we intended to stage a coup or overthrow the government. We did not open a case because we thought it might be interesting, or because we wanted to drag the FBI into a heated political contest. We opened a case to find out how the Russians might be undermining our election. We opened the case because it was our obligation and our duty to do so. We did our job.
Andrew McCabe: (04:19)
DIOG’s review of four FISA applications and other aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation details a significant number of errors and failures related to the FISA applications in this case. I agreed to be interviewed in connection with the IG’s investigation and I have reviewed the report. I was shocked and disappointed at that the errors and mistakes that the OIG found. To me, any material misrepresentation or error in a FISA application is unacceptable. Period. The FBI should be held to the standard of scrupulous accuracy that the court demands. FISA remains one of the most important tools in our country’s efforts to protect national security. The FBI is the custodian of that tool. I fully support every effort to ensure the FBI’s use of FISA maintains that high standards that the court and the American people demand and deserve.
Andrew McCabe: (05:20)
This commitment to the rule of law, acknowledging our mistakes, and doing everything possible to ensure that they are corrected, well, these are the reasons I am here today. They are the same reasons I have cooperated fully with every interview, hearing, and oversight effort requested of me both while I served and since I’ve left the FBI. I’ve provided testimony to four different congressional committees on these in related matters. I have been interviewed in connection with the special counsel’s investigation, as well as three separate DOJ, OIG investigations, submitting to questioning and reviewing documents over the equivalent of seven full business days. In an effort to provide this committee with the most complete, accurate testimony possible, I requested the FBI allow me to review some of my former materials, including my calendars and personal notes. That request was denied. Unfortunately, the broad scope of these matters and the passage of time makes many of the details of our work hard to remember. I will do my best to answer your questions today, but I will not speculate or guess about details and facts that now remain beyond my reach without the benefit of refreshing my recollection. Based on the recent testimony of the current FBI director and other intelligence officials, it seems that many of the same signs of malevolent, Russian targeting that concerned us in 2016 were seen in the run-up to the election we just completed. As both a former career law enforcement officer and a senior intelligence officer, I cannot stress-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (06:56)
Mr. McCabe, you had a five-minute opening statement. We’re at eight minutes and 40 seconds. Could you please wrap up?
Andrew McCabe: (07:03)
Yes, sir. I cannot stress enough the importance of focusing your efforts and the attention of this nation on the dangers of foreign influence on our election. The Russians were successful beyond their wildest imagination in accomplishing their goals in 2016. Their successes serve as an encouragement to other hostile nations intent on undermining our security, safety, and stability. The Russians and others will be back. Please do not let the recent calm of the 2020 election lure the nation into a false sense of security. It is up to you to ensure the nation recognizes the magnitude of the threat posed by foreign actors and take sufficiently aggressive steps to address it. With that, I’m happy to take your questions.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (07:47)
For the record, before I begin my questioning, one of the reasons that he’s not able to review his note is that the FBI did not want him to have access to classified information. I promised Mr. McCabe we would not go into the details of his dismissal. But I don’t want anybody to have the belief that it is committee chose for him not to have access. It was his former employer who made that decision. Now, very quickly, did anyone from the Trump campaign wind up being prosecuted for colluding with the Russians?
Andrew McCabe: (08:27)
Senator, it’s my understanding the results of the Mueller investigation that no one was prosecuted for criminal conspiracy involving that activity with [crosstalk 00:08:39].
Senator Lindsay Graham: (08:39)
That would include Mr. Papadopoulos, is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (08:43)
Mr. Papadopoulos, to the best of my recollection, was prosecuted for making false statements to FBI agents.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (08:51)
Right. Thank you. All right. Let’s make sure that the FBI treated both sides fairly. Senator Feinstein suggested it was right to open up the investigation against the Trump campaign. You say it was right. It was your duty. Let’s look at the entire record of the 2016 election and see how even-handed the FBI was. On September the 7th, 2016, the CIA, no, not the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom in London, but our CIA sends an investigative lead over to the FBI and they informed the FBI of US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail service. How many agents were assigned to investigate that?
Andrew McCabe: (10:02)
Senator, if you are referring to the memorandum, the raw intelligence memorandum recently declassified by the DNI-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (10:12)
Andrew McCabe: (10:15)
I have read that memorandum and I don’t understand it to be a request for investigative activity. I’m not aware that any agents were assigned to investigate the information-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (10:28)
Wait a minute. Timeout. Timeout. You get a memo, an investigative lead is what the CIA calls it, alleging that Hillary Clinton had just signed off on a plan to tie Trump to Russia for political purposes. How many people looked at that? How many agents were assigned to see if it was true or not? Did you know about it?
Andrew McCabe: (10:52)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (10:53)
Did you know about it?
Andrew McCabe: (10:55)
I was not aware of that memorandum until-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (10:57)
Wait a minute. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. You get a CIA memo, investigative lead memo, suggesting that the Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton is trying to divert attention from her email server problem by casting aspersions against the Trump campaign being connected to Russia and you didn’t know about it. How is that possible?
Andrew McCabe: (11:25)
Senator, I’d like to explain to you how that’s possible.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (11:29)
Who did it go to? Who did it go to?
Speaker 1: (11:31)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (11:33)
I will. I will. I just want to make sure if he understands who it went to. Who did the memo go to?
Andrew McCabe: (11:38)
I recently … I read the memo recently and my understanding, it went to Director Comey and was also to the attention of Peter Strzok. That memorandum that you’re referring to, as I read it, is in response to an FBI request, oral request, for an update of the sort of information that the Crossfire Hurricane task force was reviewing about Russian activity in the campaign. That’s from my best recollection, that’s what the third paragraph says.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (12:15)
I’m here to tell you that that’s not … What happened is it the CIA, and we’ve got the documents, sent to the FBI information suggesting that Hillary Clinton had approved of a plan to link Donald Trump to Russia for political purposes and it went to Peter Strzok. Do you believe Peter Strzok was fair-minded when it came to the Trump campaign?
Andrew McCabe: (12:40)
Senator my experiences working with Peter Strzok, yes, I believe he was fair in the decisions that he made in the work that he did.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (12:49)
So do you object to Mueller relieving him from the investigation because of the emails showed that he hated Trump’s guts?
Andrew McCabe: (13:00)
My recollection stirs that we removed Peter from that team because of the ongoing investigation [crosstalk 00:13:10].
Senator Lindsay Graham: (13:08)
Did you remove him or did Mueller remove him?
Andrew McCabe: (13:13)
We had conversations on the evening that it was first shown the text messages between Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page. And we made the decision to remove him and we reached out to Director Mueller’s team and they agreed with that. That’s my recollection.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (13:31)
So you believe that Peter Strzok was on the up and up. Was it ever suggested to you by Mr. Precept that Mr. Strzok should not be involved in this investigation because of his relationship with Lisa Page?
Andrew McCabe: (13:47)
Senator, I remember discussing with both Mr. Priestap and Mr. Steinbach probably in-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (13:57)
So here’s the … Here are the facts. Priestap suggests that Strzok not be involved. You overrode him. And here’s what we know about Strzok and Page. Page, March 3rd, 2016, “God, Trump is a loathsome human. Oh, my God, Strzok, Trump’s an idiot. He’s awful.” Strzok, “God, Hillary should win a hundred million to nothing.” August 2016, Page, “He’s not ever going to become president, right?” Strzok, “No, no, he won’t. We’ll stop it.” So is it your testimony under oath that you think Peter Strzok had no biases against Trump?
Andrew McCabe: (14:44)
Senator, it is my testimony under oath that the work that I saw Peter Strzok do on the Crossfire case and on other cases did not indicate-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (14:55)
Why did he … Go ahead.
Andrew McCabe: (14:58)
Senator, I’m having a hard time finishing an answer. I don’t know if it’s the connection or what.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (15:02)
Please, please finish. Please finish.
Andrew McCabe: (15:06)
So I was simply stating that the work that I saw Peter do on this case and other cases, from that work and the decisions he made, I did not see any indications of political bias.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (15:19)
How do you explain to the American people that when the FBI received a memo from the CIA alleging that Hillary Clinton had signed off on a plan concerning US Presidential Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail service that you did nothing? Should Peter Strzok have told you about this?
Andrew McCabe: (15:47)
I can’t explain to you, Senator, what Peter Strzok or Director Comey thought about that memo at that time.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (15:53)
Should you have been-
Andrew McCabe: (15:55)
What I can say, Senator is that-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (15:56)
Wait a minute. No, no. Please, please. I want to get into this. Everybody is saying that you had the right to open up an investigation against Trump based on the US ambassador, excuse me, the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom who heard a conversation in a bar. What you’re telling this committee, when the CIA informs the FBI about a plan signed off by Hillary Clinton to link Trump to Russia, nothing was done. Is that what you’re saying? There was no investigation of that allegation at all?
Andrew McCabe: (16:30)
What I’m saying, Senator, is it is not clear to me that there’s an allegation of criminal conduct in that memorandum. That is based on my current reading of it. I did not see it at the time. I can’t tell you what others thought.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (16:44)
It’s not … A counter-intelligence investigation is what was opened up against Trump, not a criminal investigation, is that true? Papadopoulos was a counter-intelligence investigation.
Andrew McCabe: (16:56)
The case against Mr. Papadopoulos was a counter- intelligence case. That’s correct.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (17:01)
So if you’re going to have a counter-intelligence investigation opened up against the Trump campaign based on our conversation by the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom, based on a bar conversation, you’re telling me that’s legit, and you put all the resources for two and a half years to run that down, but you’re telling this committee when our own CIA suggest that Hillary Clinton signed off on a plan to link Trump to Russia for political purposes, you didn’t do a damn thing. Is that your testimony?
Andrew McCabe: (17:35)
No, sir. That’s not my testimony.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (17:37)
Well, what happened?
Andrew McCabe: (17:40)
My testimony … I’m happy to explain to you how we thought about the issue with Mr. Papadopoulos.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (17:45)
No, that’s not my question. No. My question is why did the FBI not open up an investigation based on the CIA input? The CIA is telling the FBI that they have information that Hillary Clinton signed off a plan to deflect attention from her and put Trump in a bad light regarding Russia. That came in September 2016. You didn’t know about it apparently. Can you explain to this committee and the American people why the FBI did nothing regarding that allegation?
Andrew McCabe: (18:16)
I cannot, sir, explained to you what Peter Strzok or anyone else thought about that at the time. But I can explain to you that the information in that memo-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (18:27)
I accept that you believe that Mr. Papadopoulos should be looked at. I’m not arguing with you. I don’t understand how you can tell … how the FBI operated. You’ve got a tip from a Australian ambassador of the United Kingdom talking about a bar conversation with Mr. Papadopoulos about Russia hacking and that leads to two and a half years of turning the country upside down. Your own CIA informs the FBI in September that they have information that Hillary Clinton herself signed off on a plan to divert attention from her email problems to Trump by linking him to Russia for political purposes. And Mr. Strzok never told you about it. The FBI never opened up an investigation. They never hired one agent. That really is disturbing to a lot of us. Now, let’s go to the warrant. In June 2016, excuse me, 2017, did you sign off on the Carter Page warrant application?
Andrew McCabe: (19:27)
In June of 2016, yes.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (19:29)
’17. I’m sorry.
Andrew McCabe: (19:30)
’17. I’m sorry. 2017.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (19:32)
Okay. Did you know at the time that the CIA had warned the FBI on numerous occasions to be careful using the dossier, it was internet rumor?
Andrew McCabe: (19:47)
I did not know that at the time and I don’t know that now.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (19:50)
Okay. Well, we got a list of, let’s see, a list of CIA informs the FBI that Carter Page had been approved as an operational contact from 2008 to 2013. Did you know that the CIA had told the FBI that in August of 2017?
Andrew McCabe: (20:11)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (20:13)
The reason that’s important that would explain what Mr. Page was actually talking to people he claimed to be talking with. Did you know … Did you have a conversation with Mr. Orr about the reliability of Christopher Steele?
Andrew McCabe: (20:30)
I had a conversation in October of 2016, about with Mr. Orr about his interactions with Mr. Steele.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (20:43)
Did he tell you should be concerned and be careful?
Andrew McCabe: (20:47)
I don’t remember him saying I should be concerned or be careful, no.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (20:51)
In the fall of 2016, this is his testimony to the committee. You put Mr. McCabe on notice. Hey, you need to watch this. You need to verify. I certainly gave him the same caveats, and the caveats were that Steele hated Trump. Yes, your concerns. Yes. What did he say when you told him that you were concerned about … You need to be careful, for lack of a better term? I think he understood because he also worked on Russia criminal matters. So we have Mr. Orr under oath saying that he expressed concerns to you, Strzok, and others about the reliability of Mr. Steele. You don’t remember that?
Andrew McCabe: (21:29)
Senator, I don’t remember the specifics of our conversation. However, we were engaged in trying to determine and verify the statements in Mr. Steele’s reporting at that time. So we were certainly concerned about those things.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (21:44)
Were you aware of the subsource interview in January and March to the FBI?
Andrew McCabe: (21:51)
I was aware that an individual who our team thought of as one of the primary subsources had been identified and that they were interviewing-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (22:00)
Did they tell you about the substance of those interviews?
Andrew McCabe: (22:04)
Not in detail.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (22:06)
So, you didn’t know that in January the subsource tells the FBI, he had no idea where some of the language attribute to him came from. His contacts never mentioned some of the information attributed to him. He said he did not know the origins of other information that was supposedly from his contacts. He did not recall other information attributed to him or his contacts. Still used incorrect source characterizations for the primary subsource’s contacts. That in March he said he never expected Steele to put his statements in reports or present them as facts. The statements were word of mouth and hearsay conversations had with friends over beers or statements made in jest that should be taken with a grain of salt. Was any of that ever communicated to you?
Andrew McCabe: (22:57)
No, sir, not that I can recall.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (22:59)
If he knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application in June of 2017 against Carter Page?
Andrew McCabe: (23:08)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (23:09)
Okay. Finally, who is responsible for ruining Mr. Carter Page’s life? If it’s not you, if not Rosenstein, if it’s not Comey, if it’s not Sally Yates, who’s responsible for putting together the information provided to the FISA court that was completely devoid of the truth, lacking material facts, completely represented what Mr. Page did and how he did it, who we look to for that responsibility?
Andrew McCabe: (23:50)
Well, sir, I don’t agree with the way that you’ve characterized the entirety of the-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (23:55)
That’s what the court said.
Andrew McCabe: (23:59)
I think as the IG pointed out in the conclusions of their report, that-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (24:04)
Who’s responsible, Mr. McCabe?
Andrew McCabe: (24:06)
Every one who … Every person who played a role-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (24:10)
Everybody’s responsible, but nobody’s responsible?
Andrew McCabe: (24:12)
Sir, it would help if you’d allow me to finish my answer. I think it might be easier to understand. I think that we all are-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (24:17)
Okay. The question is who’s responsible?
Andrew McCabe: (24:20)
And I think that we are all responsible for the work that went into that FISA. I am certainly responsible as a person in a leadership position with oversight over these matters. I accept that responsibility fully. I cannot-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (24:35)
Did you mislead the FISA court?
Andrew McCabe: (24:39)
I signed a package that included numerous factual errors or failed to include information that should have been brought to the court.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (24:49)
And what should be done? What should be done to you and others?
Andrew McCabe: (24:55)
Well, Senator, I think we are doing that with this process. I think our efforts should be focused on figuring out how these errors took place and ensuring that they don’t happen again.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (25:07)
That starts with those who committed the problem being held accountable. Senator Feinstein.
Senator Feinstein: (25:13)
Well, Mr. Chairman, I hope you know this is difficult. It forces, one, hearings open, and then they get opened, and reports get done, and then they get castigated for doing it. And in his 434-page report, IG Horowitz confirmed that the FBI had a legitimate reason to open the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Attorney General Barr disagreed with the IG’s finding and has since referred to it as the bogus Russiagate scandal. So this is the first time I have heard this kind of thing happening. And one witness told the IG that, “It would have been a dereliction of duty in responsibility of the highest order not to investigate.” Do you agree with that?
Andrew McCabe: (26:18)
I’m sorry. Senator, I absolutely agree that it would have been a dereliction of duty for us to not initiate the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the work that we did.
Senator Feinstein: (26:33)
Now, as I understand it, it was a counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia. You opened a counter-intelligence investigation into Trump himself after he fired former FBI Director Comey and linked Comey’s termination to the Russia investigation. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. I’d like to know. You have said that if the FBI failed to open an investigation into Trump, under those circumstances, we wouldn’t be doing our job. I believe you said that on 60 Minutes. So I think it’s pretty clear opening a counter-intelligence investigation into a president is an extraordinary step. Why did you see it as necessary under those circumstances?
Andrew McCabe: (27:25)
Well, Senator, there were a lot of things that were concerning us as we went through the opening and the process of investigation-
Senator Feinstein: (27:35)
Well, please say what they were. I think it would be helpful to this conversation.
Andrew McCabe: (27:40)
Sure. So we knew that the Russians had been targeting us. We had reason to believe because of the friendly foreign government information that the campaign had been aware of that and might have coordinated with them and those activities. So that’s why we initiated the Crossfire investigation. After, as we proceeded with that investigation, we had a series of alarming … I should say, Director Comey had a series of alarming interactions with President Trump in which it became pretty clear to us that he did not want us to continue investigating what the Russians had done. He actually asked at one point that we stopped investigating General Flynn. He then fired Director Comey. He also asked that we state publicly that he was not under investigation. When we didn’t do that and we didn’t close the investigation on General Flynn, he fired Director Comey. He then stated publicly that he had fired Director Comey, thinking about the Russians. He then told the Russians that he had fired Director Comey and that that had relieved a lot of pressure that had been on him.
Andrew McCabe: (28:51)
So we had many reasons at that point to believe that the president might himself pose a danger to national security and that he might have engaged in obstruction of justice if the firing of the director and those other things were geared towards eliminating or stopping our investigation of Russian activity.
Senator Feinstein: (29:15)
So what was found on that point?
Andrew McCabe: (29:20)
Well, that’s the point, Senator, in which we handed the investigation on the first four people and the investigation of President Trump and the investigation of former Attorney General Sessions over to the special counsel team. And I think we all know what happened at the conclusion of that investigation. The details that are provided in the Mueller report, I think provide a pretty solid results that verify that our concerns were valid. So I’m very confident in the work that the special counsel did. And I think it proved that our concerns at that time were legitimate.
Senator Feinstein: (30:07)
Would you go into some of those concerns and what the report showed?
Andrew McCabe: (30:14)
Sure. So, we opened the initial Crossfire Hurricane investigation because predominantly the statements of George Papadopoulos, which indicated that people, maybe Mr. Papadopoulos, maybe others affiliated with the campaign might be coordinating with Russia. My recollection of the results of the special counsel’s investigation is that they found, I think it was over a hundred different connections between people affiliated with or a part of the Trump campaign and Russians or people affiliated with the Russian government or Russian intelligence services. So clearly, our concern that there might be connections here that we should be looking into to ensure there’s no danger to national security was proven true.
Andrew McCabe: (31:03)
… there’s no danger to national security was proven true. On the obstruction of justice side, I think as is well known, Director Mueller concluded that he could not indict or seek an indictment of a sitting president due to Department of Justice policy. However, the Volume II of the Mueller Report lays out in pretty excruciating detail, at least 10 different categories of behavior or activity that the president engaged in. And I think to the best of my recollection, in at least eight of those categories, the elements of the offense of obstruction of justice, evidence to prove each element of the offense of obstruction of justice are present in those categories of behavior. So it’s a bit legalistic, and I apologize for that explanation, but it is a fairly compelling case that the president was in fact engaging in behavior that you could easily categorize as obstruction justice.
Andrew McCabe: (32:07)
So once again, our concern that the president might be obstructing justice was verified by the results of the Mueller Report.
Mrs. Feinstein: (32:14)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (32:19)
Sen. Cornyn: (32:23)
Mr. McCabe, I revere the Department of Justice, I revere the FBI, but what’s happened over the last four years has revealed an FBI gone rogue, that has interfered with not just one candidate, but with two candidates for president of the United States, starting with Hillary Clinton. And then of course, the investigation of the current president, Donald Trump. How is it that the FBI decided to interfere in the election of not just one, but two candidates for president of the United States?
Andrew McCabe: (33:21)
Well, senator, I don’t agree with your characterization of our work as having gone rogue. And I would also say that at no time, while I was in the FBI, did we make a decision to interfere in any presidential election. We-
Sen. Cornyn: (33:40)
Did you participate in the discussions leading up to the July 5th, 2016 press conference that Director Comey held on the email investigation? Did you agree with that and did you support his decision to go public with that announcement?
Andrew McCabe: (33:58)
Senator, I was a part of those decisions at the time. I supported it at the time. I feel very differently about it now. I’m happy to go into detail about that if you’d like.
Sen. Cornyn: (34:11)
And you understand that while you thought that firing the FBI director may be some evidence of Russian involvement with President Trump, you’re familiar with the Rod Rosenstein memo, which was at least in part the reason why Director Comey was fired, correct?
Andrew McCabe: (34:36)
Yes, yes. I became familiar with that maybe the day that Dr. Comey was fired.
Sen. Cornyn: (34:42)
What I don’t understand, Mr. McCabe, is your relationship with Director Comey. Did Director Comey know everything you knew, or did you selectively tell him or report to him about things that the FBI was doing?
Andrew McCabe: (35:01)
Well, senator, I can’t say what Director Comey knew, but I can tell you that Director Comey and I attended numerous meetings together, briefings every day, that it was my practice to discuss all of the major issues that we were dealing with, that I was dealing with with Director Comey. So we spoke frequently about most topics. I can’t tell you with perfect accuracy everything that we talked about, but we talked a lot. So he was pretty up to speed on what was going on at all times.
Sen. Cornyn: (35:47)
Did you or Director Comey consult with Attorney General Lynch or deputy attorney Sally Yates about the counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign?
Andrew McCabe: (36:02)
Yes sir. Our team met with the folks, the DOJ leadership of the National Security Division within a day or so of opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and informed them of what we had done and what we thought about the case and the people who were being investigated. And then Director Comey and I… Well, I won’t speak for Director Comey. I had follow-up conversations with department leadership in the days that followed and many times during the course of the investigation.
Sen. Cornyn: (36:35)
Mr. McCabe, who should be held accountable for the submission of a foreign intelligence surveillance act application that contained a lie about Carter Page with regard to his activities on behalf of another agency of the federal government? And who should be held accountable for relying on the now discredited Steele dossier? I think that’s the question people would like an answer to. Who should be held accountable?
Andrew McCabe: (37:17)
Senator, I think all of the people involved in this work should be and have been held accountable. I feel like the oversight process that we’re engaged in now, the participation and cooperation and the efforts of the inspector general, I think all of these elements of the work that the FBI has done internally to address everything from individuals to processes involved, I think those are all essential steps to ensure that these errors are fixed and that we take appropriate steps not to make them in the future.
Sen. Cornyn: (37:54)
Well, it’s 2020, and these occurred back in 2016. I certainly don’t have any confidence that the people who were responsible for this debacle over the last four years will ultimately be held responsible. I hope I’m wrong. So I don’t agree with my friend from California that’s now a time to turn the page. We need to make sure that nothing like this ever, ever happens again to any candidate or any president regardless of their political party. I have to tell you, my biggest concern, Mr. McCabe, is if the FBI under James Comey and under your leadership as deputy director of the FBI can do this, what they did to Hillary Clinton, a candidate for president of the United States, and can do it to Donald J. Trump, both as a candidate and a current president of the United States, what chance does an average citizen have if they’re under investigation by an FBI led by leaders in the fashion that you and Mr. Comey led during the time of these investigations?
Sen. Cornyn: (39:24)
What confidence can an average citizen have that they would have any chance at all?
Andrew McCabe: (39:33)
Senator, I disagree with you. I think that all Americans should and do have great confidence in the FBI today and during the time I was there and before that. The FBI conducts tens of thousands of investigations across all programs every single day and the FBI goes to great lengths to ensure that the constitutional rights of those subjects of investigations, the witnesses we come across and the sources of information we work with are protected during the course of those investigations. That doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes, we do. We’re an organization of human beings and people make mistakes. And when that happens, I think we go through a rigorous process to ensure that we don’t make those mistakes again.
Sen. Cornyn: (40:31)
When you make mistakes, other people pay the price apparently. Let me just ask one final question, Mr. McCabe. On March the 16th, you were terminated by the FBI following an investigation of the Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which found that you had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and you lacked candor including under oath on multiple occasions. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (41:10)
Senator, it is correct that I was the subject of a biased and deeply flawed and unfair investigation by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General. And I’ve been pretty clear in my vigorous objection to that investigation and its findings and conclusions that filed a federal lawsuit, and I think I would refer you to the specific comments in that lawsuit. It’s not proper for me to discuss the details of that investigation now that it’s in front of a federal judge.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (41:45)
Thank you. Senator Durbin.
Sen. Durbin: (41:48)
Mr. Chairman, anyone across America who tuned into this hearing has a right to be confused. If you were told this is a hearing on a presidential election, it’s true, but not the one that occurred a week ago. We’re talking about a presidential election and campaign four years ago. Yes, we are focusing on a presidential election, but we are examining for the fourth time the role of Russians in the 2016 election, four years ago. And more importantly, we are discussing President Trump’s conclusion, despite intelligence evidence to the contrary that the Russian collusion was a hoax. For this Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s all about Hillary, it’s all about outgoing President Trump’s bizarre theories of justice. This is a last ditch desperate undertaking to deal with President Trump’s grievances about that election.
Sen. Durbin: (42:48)
We’ve all conceded the point, Carter Page was not treated properly. Both sides of the aisle have said as much. How many more times do we need to say it? I want to say it again today because I still believe it, but what are we actually facing here? What is the state of play in America today that the Senate Judiciary Committee might be interested in? Well, let’s take a few items. We did have an election, a landmark moment in history. A sitting president, Donald Trump, who has routinely disrespected the rule of law, undermined democratic institutions, put his own interests ahead of the interests of the American people, ignored science and public health when it comes to this pandemic, and violated basic standards of honesty and decency, in unprecedented numbers, a clear majority of Americans voted to say, that’s it. We’re finished with you.
Sen. Durbin: (43:41)
And replaced him with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, incidentally, two senators who’ve served honorably on this committee. The election sent a clear message, it’s time to stop re-litigating issues of the last election. It’s time, finally, to put behind us the divisiveness vitriol of the Trump era and to bring our fractured country together to address COVID number one and put our economy back on its feet. But here we are today, seven days after that election and our committee is holding another partisan hearing to advance President Trump’s theories. This is the fourth hearing this year on the last administration, the previous administration’s Justice Department in response to President Trump’s repeated calls to investigate the investigators and to try to rewrite the story of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 campaign.
Sen. Durbin: (44:44)
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee that we sit on here hasn’t held a single oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s Justice Department in this Congress. Any issues we might want to raise? I can think of a few. Perhaps we might even investigate the Department of Homeland Security and their zero-tolerance policy. I regret what happened to Carter Page, and I’ve said so before, but I also regret what happened to 2,200 infants, toddlers and children who were physically removed from their parents by the zero-tolerance policy of the Trump administration and the fact that 545 of those children still are in an abandoned status today, 545. So my question as has been asked to the witness before us today is, who should be held responsible? Why wouldn’t the Senate Judiciary Committee even care to have a hearing?
Sen. Durbin: (45:45)
Why wouldn’t the Immigration Subcommittee, which I am a ranking member on with the senator from Texas, even have one hearing on that issue, none, but this is the fourth hearing we’re having going back over this well plowed ground. There are some timely issues related to the Department of Justice that we might even have considered today. Let me give you one. Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr issued a memo authorizing federal prosecutors to, “Pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation regularities prior to the certification of elections.” The attorney general’s memo represents another instance of his sacrificing the reputation of the Department of Justice to serve the political interests of President Donald Trump. Attorney General Barr is clearly attempting to fabricate a veneer of legitimacy for the baseless claims of voter fraud made by President Trump and his supporters.
Sen. Durbin: (46:42)
And he’s doing so by overriding longstanding Department of Justice policies that were put in place to prevent this very type of political interference in an election season. Let me tell you what the previous guidelines the previous attorney generals honored said, ” Public knowledge of a criminal investigation could impact the adjudication of election litigation and contest in state courts. Accordingly, it is the general policy of the Justice Department not to conduct overt investigations.” Attorney General Barr jettisoned that standard yesterday. The Barr memo prompted the Department of Justice director of election crimes branch to resign from his position. An issue the Senate Judiciary Committee might want to be concerned about? No, I’m sorry. We’re back re-litigating the 2016 election. We’re going to go through that all over again, maybe a fifth time instead of asking pertinent and relevant questions about what’s happening today.
Sen. Durbin: (47:42)
Mr. Richard Pilger, who resigned from that position noted that Barr’s memo, “Abrogated the 40 year old non-interference policy for ballot fraud allegations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.” When General Barr came before me in my office, I asked him point blank, “Why do you want to be Donald Trump’s attorney general?” Well, he said, “You should’ve seen the list of other people who might’ve been also considered. I thought that I should step in at that point.” And secondly, he said, “I want to preserve the reputation of the Department of Justice.” Is there anyone on or off this committee who believes that General Barr’s actions yesterday preserve the integrity of the Department of Justice, where baseless claims are being made about voter fraud? Do you know what the litigants record is in court since the election protesting the outcome of the election, zero for 10.
Sen. Durbin: (48:41)
They have no evidence whatsoever of election fraud. If they did, they would certainly bring it forward. I want to close by thanking former president, George W. Bush of Texas, for stepping up and doing the honorable thing and acknowledging to now President-elect Joe Biden that he did win, that he will be the next president. And he, President Bush, as a proud Republican thought that that was time for him to step up for the good of the republic. I yield.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (49:13)
Thank you, Senator Durbin. I would like to respond to some of the comments you made about the committee, what we’re doing and why. Number one, we are going to investigate how the Carter Page warrant application was submitted numerous times to the FISA court with inaccurate information. And I think it’s important to have every person who signed it say, “If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have signed it.” To me is actually pretty stunning. And the committee in September the 29th received information for Director Ratcliffe that in September of 2016, September the 7th, the CIA informs the FBI that candidate Hillary Clinton approved of a plan concerning US presidential candidate, Donald Trump and Russia hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server. And if you go look at the classified information, there’s more there. And I guess what we’re saying is that you accept without any doubt that the FBI should have looked at all things Trump based on Papadopoulos, that it would have been a dereliction of duty not to do so.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (50:23)
What we’re suggesting is that when the CIA informs the FBI that Hillary Clinton may have signed off on a plan to link Trump to Russia for political reasons, nobody did anything. There wasn’t an investigation opened. Mr. McCabe didn’t even know about it. The FBI director says it didn’t ring a bell. The person it went to was Peter Strzok, who was incredibly biased against President Trump. So I guess what we’re saying, if you believe it would have been a dereliction of duty not to look at Trump based on a statement by the Australian Ambassador of the United Kingdom regarding a bar conversation in London that led to everything we’ve dealt with for two and a half years, we were wondering just out loud here, how could you ignore the CIA information provided to the FBI that the Democratic candidate for president signed off on a plan to link Trump to Russia for political reasons which may explain some of the garbage of Crossfire Hurricane.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (51:25)
Now, you’re okay with that, we’re not. You’re absolutely perfectly fine with the fact that the Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2016, the CIA had information she signed off on a plan to link the Republican candidate to Russia for political purposes and nobody did anything. You are absolutely fine with that, we are not. That is a big deal to me because this won’t be the last election we’ll ever have, and you can’t live in a country this way. You can’t live in a country where they take a CIA lead and put it in the garbage can and nobody do anything. That’s just not fair to this country. That’s got to stop. You can’t have two standards. Will you help me make sure Mueller doesn’t get fired? Yes. Mueller got to do his job. Well, here’s what we’re upset about. Nobody took allegations from the CIA seriously about Hillary Clinton’s effort to sign off on a plan.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (52:22)
It may not be true, but somebody should have looked at it. Nobody cared over there. I think most people on this side of the aisle believe that when it came to Clinton and Trump, the FBI and all the people involved on Crossfire Hurricane shut out anything that would change the narrative that Trump was being involved with the Russians. They ignored every stop sign about Carter Page, they kept ignoring information because they wanted an outcome, and they didn’t lift a finger to investigate a lead from our own CIA.
Sen. Durbin: (52:54)
Mr. Chairman, may I respond?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (52:56)
Sen. Durbin: (52:57)
Mr. Chairman, what you’ve just said is so alarming that we should have had somewhere along the way, a thorough non-partisan investigation of this whole Crossfire Hurricane. Well, it turns out we did. Inspector General Michael Horowitz, in December of 2019, found that FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation was quote, opened for an authorized purpose, had adequate factual predication and was not influenced by bias. FBI Director Christopher Wray agreed. That isn’t what President Trump or Attorney General Barr, perhaps members of this committee wanted to hear, so they’ve tried to reopen that, an independent IG investigation in every partisan way imaginable and this is the fourth try in this committee, enough.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (53:43)
With all due respect, Senator Durbin, does it not bother you at all that the CIA tells the FBI of a plan that Hillary Clinton may have signed off on and nobody looked at it?
Mr. Whitehouse: (53:55)
May I jump in?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (53:56)
Mr. Whitehouse: (53:57)
Actually it doesn’t, and I’ll tell you why it doesn’t. The FBI is an agency of limited and specific jurisdiction. It has the ability to pursue predicated criminal investigations, and I think we’ve all agreed that a political campaign choosing to tie politically the opponent to a foreign country is not a criminal act. The Trump campaign tried to do that to Joe Biden with China all through this campaign, that’s not a criminal act. And if you’re looking at this as a counter-intelligence investigation, the obvious difference is that the information that the FBI was receiving about Carter Page and the Trump campaign is that there were contacts, contacts between Russian intelligence operatives and Trump campaign operatives. When you have contacts going on, that does light up a flag on a counter-intelligence front, and I don’t see how anybody could disagree that that’s the case.
Mr. Whitehouse: (55:05)
But when you have a campaign making its internal campaign policy to try to say either, well, Biden’s too close to China and you can’t trust him, or Trump’s too close to Russia and you can’t trust him, I don’t think the FBI has a lot of business interfering in that type of public campaign political debate. And I would bet you that if the FBI was looking at what the Trump campaign said about Biden with respect to China and whether they had a strategy to try to tie Biden to Trump, you would be beside yourself with irritation and anger that the FBI had taken that step. And yet here you’re excoriating the FBI for staying away from taking that step with respect to an internal political strategy of the Hillary campaign. I don’t see how that gets you to either criminality or the type of contacts with a foreign power that raise counter-intelligence concerns. You keep asking this question, there is my answer.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (56:13)
Well, let me give my reply to your answer and we’ll get to Senator Lee. In this case, there was no criminal investigation opened, it was all counter-intelligence based on a conversation by the Australian Ambassador to the United Kingdom with Papadopoulos in a bar, and we got the tapes, and Papadopoulos said on tape, “No, I’m not working with the Russians. That’d be treason.” They used that snippet open up what now is called Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation. I guess the one thing you’re overlooking here is that the Steele dossier was prepared by Christopher Steele, who was on the payroll of the Democratic Party. He was working through Fusion GPS that was being paid by the Democratic Party. He created a document that was a bunch of garbage. The State Department calls over to the FBI and says, “This guy wants Trump not to win in the worst way.”
Senator Lindsay Graham: (57:07)
Bruce Ohr and a bunch of other people warned the FBI that the Christopher Steele document is suspect at best, the CIA informs the FBI that it’s internet rumor. So this is a situation where if the Clinton campaign in fact created this impression that Trump was working with the Russians through Christopher Steele who was on the payroll, that yeah, maybe that makes it all make sense. Maybe that explains that this dossier was prepared by a political person, by a person on the payroll that was used to get a warrant against an American citizen. This is the first time I know of that opposition research winds up being used by the FBI to get a warrant against an American citizen, a member of the other campaign. I am very sad that the CIA’s information about Hillary Clinton signing off on a plan to link Trump to Russia wasn’t looked at because if you had looked at it, that may have explained Christopher Steele and the dossier. Senator Lee.
Senator Lee: (58:10)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. According to Bill Priestap’s handwritten notes from the January 24th 2017 meeting, a meeting that you, Mr. McCabe, attended, the FBI’s strategy with General Michael Flynn was to quote, get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired. And also, “If we can get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give the facts to the Department of Justice and have them decide.” Mr. McCabe, is it typical for leadership at the FBI to strategize as to how to get subjects of an investigation to lie, as in this case, in an informal interview without counsel present?
Andrew McCabe: (58:57)
Well, I’m not going to speak for Mr. Priestap’s notes, but I can tell you-
Senator Lee: (59:03)
No, I was just asking you whether it’s typical.
Andrew McCabe: (59:06)
I can tell you that it is common to discuss before an interview the many different ways that that interview might turn out. And one of those ways is that the subject or the witness you are interviewing might be deliberately deceptive. And so it is common to think through how you would handle that.
Senator Lee: (59:23)
Okay. Now, in his 302 interview, Peter Strzok stated, “Before the interview, McCabe, the FBI general counsel and others decided agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed and they were concerned that giving warnings might adversely affect the report.” Is it normal for FBI leadership to instruct agents to not inform interviewees of their rights in investigation interviews?
Andrew McCabe: (59:58)
There is no requirement to tell any witness or interviewee that it is a crime to lie to the FBI. It is very common for agents and their supervisors to discuss how they’re going to handle these different elements of an interview before they go in and do it.
Senator Lee: (01:00:19)
But I assume you don’t do that all the time, and one of the reasons you don’t do that all the time is because you rely on informal interviews. You get a lot of information out of them. And if you’re constantly warning them in advance and making them feel like they’re targets, that’s a problem. But it also can become a problem, and it invariably does when people in an informal interview are lured into an informal interview with one set of expectations that you’ve created for them and you routinely dash them. Now, when scheduling the January 24th meeting with General Flynn, you threatened to elevate the issue of Flynn’s call with Kislyak to the Department of Justice if he appeared at the interview with counsel. Statements made by General Flynn during this very same interview where you advised him to appear also were used as the basis for his prosecution.
Senator Lee: (01:01:10)
So is it standard practice for the FBI to threaten high-level administration officials if they refuse to appear for interviews without counsel, or at least without somebody from the White House Counsel’s office?
Andrew McCabe: (01:01:25)
Well, the premise of your question is absolutely false. I did not threaten General Flynn with anything. General Flynn and I, during a very short conversation, I asked General Flynn if he wanted to have a representative from the White House Counsel’s office or his own attorney attend the interview and I simply told him that if that were the case, that I would need the agents to also bring an attorney from the Department of Justice. General Flynn very quickly replied that he didn’t want to bring an attorney to the interview, which is certainly his right and we proceeded in that way.
Senator Lee: (01:02:02)
Andrew McCabe: (01:02:02)
… Right. And we proceeded in that way.
Senator Lee: (01:02:03)
I’m looking at your notes regarding your conversations with General Flynn. Quote, “I explained to Lieutenant General Flynn that my desire was to have two of my agents interview them as quickly, quietly and discreetly as possible. He agreed and offered to meet with the agents today. We had some discussion about timing and ultimately agreed to conduct the interview at his office in the White House at 14:30 this afternoon. I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between him and the agents only. I’ve heard it further stated that if General Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House Council, for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. He stated that this would not be necessary and agreed with the agents without any additional participants.”
Senator Lee: (01:02:48)
That, to me, at least carries a certain suggestion. Now, based on Sally Yates’ 302, Director Comey admitted that he would have informed the Obama White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, if this were occurring under analogous circumstances with President Obama and President Obama’s National Security Advisor. So why this disparate treatment? Why would you have one standard where you would inform the Chief of Staff in one instance, but not in another administration?
Andrew McCabe: (01:03:28)
Well, sir, I can’t speak for what Jim Comey thought about that at the time. I’m not aware of that.
Senator Lee: (01:03:35)
Okay. Mr. McCabe, we’ve hauled in a few different people to talk about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in front of this committee. And so far, we haven’t been able to get a single straight answer to some critical questions, including who in leadership at the FBI or the Department of Justice knew about the serious flaws contained in the Carter Page FISA warrants before the original application was submitted on October 21st, 2016? Also, who knew by the time that the first renewal was submitted on January 12th, 2017, or how about the second renewal on April 7th, 2017? And most importantly for today’s purposes, who knew when you signed the third renewal on June 28th, 2017? Nobody seems to be telling us anything.
Senator Lee: (01:04:23)
Now, back in August, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told this committee that she had no idea where critical factual errors in the initial Carter Page application is. She had no idea that those were there. A few weeks ago, Director Comey told this committee that he didn’t know about the errors when he signed the initial applications and the subsequent renewals. And now you’ve told this committee what? What is your answer to these questions? Tell me what you were aware of as of those dates.
Andrew McCabe: (01:04:57)
Well, I’ve been pretty clear that I was not aware of the errors that are identified in the IG’s report or any other errors that were present in the package that I signed in June of 2017.
Senator Lee: (01:05:15)
Mr. Chairman, my time’s expiring. Could I get an additional two minutes? I think I can wrap this up in that time. Thank you. Now, you’ve stated in your written testimony that, “FISA remains one of the most important tools in our country’s efforts to protect national security. The FBI is the custodian of that tool. I fully support every effort to ensure that the FBI’s use of FISA maintains the high standards of the court and the American people that they demand and they deserve.” Well, that’s all well and good. I like the statement as far as it goes. But I would note, Mr. McCabe, that I’ve heard this line before. Not just once. I’ve heard it more times than I can possibly count over the last 10 years while I’ve been sitting on this committee. In fact, your comments are nearly identical to those that I’ve heard from FBI official after FBI official, from basically every FBI official who’s testified in front of this committee on this issue.
Senator Lee: (01:06:07)
“Trust us. We’re the good guys, and we need the secret surveillance authorities in order to keep you safe. And furthermore, you don’t need to worry about them. These aren’t the droids you were looking for, because we’re the good guys and we require a high level of approval.” Well, it turns out Mr. McCabe, none of the people involved in the high level of approval, those same people who have told me over and over again over the last decade that they were reviewing them, and that that’s why it was okay, none of them can answer these questions. So that’s why we’re here again. So I’m asking you now. How are we supposed to tell the American people to have confidence in the secret of FISA surveillance process if, mind you, this is hard to believe, no one in FBI leadership, no one in leadership of DOJ or FBI, wants to admit that they were aware of serious flaws in a very high profile investigation?
Senator Lee: (01:07:03)
And what assurances could you possibly give us that the FISA applications targeting everyday Americans, just US citizens, not foreign suspected terrorists, and not even high profile government officials in the United States, are subject to any stricter scrutiny? They simply can’t be. The fact is the FISA process must be reformed. We can’t ask Americans to continue to give the federal government this enormous amount of unsupervised scrutiny and discretion only to have it abused by this and only to have the people who are accountable for it say they have no idea how these things happen.
Senator Lee: (01:07:38)
I can assure you that your abuse of the FISA process has cost you the trust of the American people. That in and of itself is tragic, and I don’t use those words lightly. What’s even more tragic is they’ve cost a great agency, one that I work with as a federal prosecutor and for which I’ve had great respect, and where there are still countless hardworking, honest men and women who earned the FBI’s good name every day. Their reputation has been sullied. And the Bureau’s ability to do its job has been seriously impaired by these missteps. That’s why this structure must change, and I won’t rest until it does.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:08:19)
Mr. McCabe, would you like to respond?
Andrew McCabe: (01:08:23)
Sure. So I certainly can’t respond to things that other people have said to Senator Lee over the last 10 years. I do agree with you that this process, the IG’s oversight, the report that they delivered, has uncovered that there are problems potentially with the way that the FBI is handling its FISA responsibilities. I think I’m fairly confident in saying that this experience has exposed to me at least that we have been over confident in the process that we’ve been using for years. We’ve been overconfident in the oversight that we have been subjecting each FISA package to. And I think that we need to go back and very thoroughly look at how do we change that process to ensure that the errors and omissions in these packages that we now know about don’t happen again. I agree with you in that respect, Senator.
Senator Lee: (01:09:26)
It won’t change. We have to change it. It’s the law that’s the problem. It gives an unfair amount of discretion to human beings who have proven time and again they can’t be trusted with it. Thank you.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:09:34)
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:09:36)
Thank you, Chairman. First of all, let me just say that given the errors and omissions that everybody concedes and knows were in the FISA warrant, no official would say now that they’d sign that warrant, knowing that it had errors and omissions. So that’s an obvious question. What I want to make sure of is that it doesn’t lead to the wrong implication that because officials wouldn’t sign a warrant that they knew to have errors and omissions in it, that had they found out that there were errors and omissions in it, they would have ended the investigation. That is not a logical leap. That is not a correct assertion or a correct implication.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:10:20)
What you do is you go back and you clear out the errors and omissions. You take whatever personnel action is necessary against the people responsible for those errors and omissions. And then you proceed with your case with a correct warrant. So let’s just make sure that that is clear. I think we agree on that, but I want to clarify that. I also got to say, I’ve got no objection to us pursuing endlessly the question of this Crossfire Hurricane investigation, but it does irk me that we do this at the expense of other things we could be looking at and should be looking at. If you haven’t read Judge Gleason’s brief for a federal well judge in the Flynn case, it’s one of the most astonishing piece… First of all, it’s just an amazingly good piece of legal writing. So if you’re a law student out there or a young lawyer, go read it just to watch the skill of a terrific advocate at work. But the allegations and concerns that a retired federal judge on behalf of a sitting federal judge has made about the Department of Justice are unprecedented.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:11:24)
And what attention have we given that? None. There is very likely mischief behind the anti-trust letter that was sent out to auto companies who had the nerve to try to interfere with the fossil fuel industry’s scheme to undo to vehicle emission standards. There’s no support for that. It’s since been withdrawn. The hearing continues to be postponed. And I still have got zero, zero, evidence or information in relation to my requests about that. We have what appears to have been a tanked FBI investigation in the Kavanaugh hearings. And I’ve asked questions about that, to which I’ve had no answer whatsoever. We’ve had multiple resignations in protest by career DOJ officials under Attorney General Barr. And we can’t get any answers to what’s going on behind those resignations in protest. And now two federal courts have written official opinions, decisions excoriating the work of the Office of Legal Counsel. And nothing on that. So we’re highly selective in what we choose to look into. And we’ve been extremely solicitous of the stonewalling and non-responsiveness of this Department of Justice. Well guys, we’re about to go into a Biden Department of Justice. And if the standard you want to set is that the Department of Justice doesn’t have to answer any letters, doesn’t have to answer any QFRs, only does things for the majority party, congratulations. Because you’ve done a really good job of setting that precedent in this committee. You have allowed an effective policy at the Department of Justice and the FBI of non-responsiveness. And I’ll tell you how bad it is. The chairman actually brought the Deputy Attorney General into a meeting with me, thank you for that courtesy, at my request, because we were getting no answers to QFRs, no answers to letters. Just a complete blow off. If I recall correctly, that meeting was in June. You know how many answers I’ve gotten since June, after that meeting with the Deputy Attorney General about unanswered questions? None, zero.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:14:06)
So you all have set one heck of a precedent. If you think you’re going to come back with questions about the Biden Department of Justice, you have set a precedent that the Department of Justice and the FBI don’t have to answer our questions, and that if you’re in the majority, that’s cool. You’re just going to let that ride. So I have to take this opportunity to ask some back questions to a former FBI official because we don’t have that. So let me ask Mr. McCabe. The FBI does pretty much everything by policy and procedure, in my recollection as an US attorney working with FBI agents. Were there FBI policies and procedures related to how a tip line operates?
Andrew McCabe: (01:14:56)
Yes, sir. Yeah. There are policies about that.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:14:59)
And where would I go to find those policies and procedures? I was able to find one statement on the internet. Are you aware of other places that we should go to look more specifically since we haven’t been able to get straight answers?
Andrew McCabe: (01:15:12)
I don’t know if I can give you the perfect place to look, but the way the FBI handles tip lines has changed a lot in the last five or so years. So they’re all managed centrally out of our facility in West Virginia that kind of handles all the incoming calls and then sends leads or information, directs it to the field offices that would be responsible for following up on those things.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:15:41)
Who has authority to set one up? Who makes the call? An agent says, “I want a tip line on this case.” Where does that decision travel through the FBI? You don’t get a tip line in every case. You get tip lines in some cases. How does that work?
Andrew McCabe: (01:15:57)
Typically, the Office of Public Affairs would be involved in that suggestion, if it’s a particular case that we think requesting the public’s active involvement will help.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:16:11)
So the agent would ask his agent in charge, and the agent in charge would clear it with the Public Affairs Office, and then the process for a tip line kicks in?
Andrew McCabe: (01:16:23)
That’s the best of my recollections.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:16:26)
And then once the tip line is up and running and information starts to come in, what does it look like when you’re going through those tips? Obviously a lot of them are going to be just nutty people calling in. Some of them are going to have very significant evidence potentially in them. And you’re going to have to go and dig into that. Who oversees that to make sure that that is legitimate and that evidence is actually being dug out of a tip line call?
Andrew McCabe: (01:16:56)
So once the line is set up, those calls would go into our Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia. And the telephone operators, the specialists who answer those calls, have a process for how they memorialize the information that comes off that tip and who it gets sent to, and whether it should be brought to someone’s attention immediately if it’s something that involves possibly a threat to life. So there are detailed policies around that. I’m not really in a position to be able to tell you great detail about them off the top of my head.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:17:33)
I’m over my time. So let me ask a last, very short question. And that is if an FBI tip line were set up and information were collected through that FBI tip line, and then nobody looked at what had been brought in, it was just all dumped in a file and there was no further investigative work at all, would that be consistent with FBI policy or procedure?
Andrew McCabe: (01:18:01)
From the way you’ve described the situation, sir, I’d have to say no. I’m not aware of a specific situation that it’s that model. But presumably, the information that comes in off the tip line gets put into our guardian system. And that’s how all of our incoming tip information is managed and assigned and investigated at its most initial level. So no, information that comes into the FBI should never just be put aside and not followed up on.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:18:28)
Thank you, Chairman, for the extra time.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:18:31)
Absolutely. And as to the anti-trust issue we’ve been talking about, the committee deserves to have a hearing on that. We had the Barrett nomination. So I’m going to get with Senator Lee and make sure that we can, in a reasonable fashion, get answers to the questions you’ve raised. I think we owe that to not only you but the committee itself.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:18:52)
Hearings can be pretty meaningless if we haven’t been given any documents, if we’ve been blown off by the FBI-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:18:57)
We’ve got some time left, and we will look into that as to Justice Kavanaugh. I think he got, from my point of view, pretty good scrutiny. So Senator Tillis. Nope. Who we got? Grassley. I’ve overlooked the soon-to-be chairman.
Senator Grassley: (01:19:17)
During the course of Crossfire Hurricane, the Obama administration used FISA process as a weapon against candidate Trump, and then later President Trump. Doing so undermined his presidency from the start. We voted in the Senate on legislation that would repair many of the shortcomings in the current FISA court system, striking a balance of increasing accountability, transparency, and ensuring fairness while protecting our national security interests. Congress must ensure that the FISA process isn’t abused for partisan political gain like it was during the Obama administration. So now Mr. McCabe, to my first question, the Inspector General found 17 errors and omissions in the Carter Page FISA application. There were also over 50 errors and omissions in the Woods file for the Page FISA application. In light of these overwhelming mistakes, the obvious lack of evidence and the failure to fully apprise the FISA court of relevant exculpatory facts, the investigation simply didn’t have foundation to proceed. If you were diligent doing the job, how did you miss all of these critical mistakes and failures that have tarnished the FBI for probably years to come?
Andrew McCabe: (01:20:45)
Well, I don’t agree with your characterization of the investigation being illegitimate or flawed. There are clearly the flaws that you have referenced. The ones pointed out by the IG should not have taken place in the FISA application, which was only one part of an overall investigation into Mr. Page and three other individuals, an investigation that I would point out the IG indicated was for an authorized purpose, properly predicated.
Senator Grassley: (01:21:18)
According to the Inspector General, the Steele dossier was central and essential to the Carter Page FISAs. However, according to your testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, the dossier wasn’t fully vetted and corroborated before it was used in the FISA application. Why didn’t you ensure that the FBI performed its due diligence before the dossier was used to justify invasive surveillance on an American citizen?
Andrew McCabe: (01:21:48)
The FBI is not required by the court to only present information that has been absolutely verified and proven true. We often use information that we have not yet gotten to the bottom of. We are required to provide information about the source of that information so that the court is adequately aware of what we know about what we’ve told them and how we think about its verification. In this case, we were in the middle of a very long and extensive effort trying to prove the many allegations in the Steele reporting.
Senator Grassley: (01:22:27)
On January 4th, 2017, the FBI prepared a memo to close the Flynn case and noted no derogatory information was identified. That same day, Mr. Struck interceded to keep it open. Did you order Struck or anyone else to keep it open? If not, who did?
Andrew McCabe: (01:22:51)
I don’t recall ordering Peter or Mr. Struck to keep that investigation open. I think that obviously that’s what happened, but I don’t know who gave that order.
Senator Grassley: (01:23:07)
Okay. Did anyone ever instruct you to keep the Flynn case open? If so, who?
Andrew McCabe: (01:23:16)
No one ever instructed me to keep the Flynn case open. We had conversations about the Flynn case towards the end of 2016, and whether or not we should keep it open. There was some thought that we had not developed much information about it during the course of the information and that it might be appropriate to close the case. However, those thoughts changed as soon as we became aware that we had evidence of General Flynn’s conversations with the Russians. So our initial concern that General Flynn might be the point of contact between the Trump campaign and the Russians was elevated when we found evidence that he was in fact in touch with the Russians.
Senator Grassley: (01:24:03)
During your time at the FBI, how many Logan Act investigations were you a part of?
Andrew McCabe: (01:24:11)
I do not recall ever having been a part of a Logan Act investigation.
Senator Grassley: (01:24:16)
Based on the evidence I’ve seen, much of which has been made public, the FBI was out to get Flynn and they broke every rule in the books to interview him and try to entrap him. What the Obama administration and FBI did to Flynn under your watch is a textbook example of the power of the federal government can be abusive and hurt the American people. Now going to leks, the subject leks, L-E-K-S, I’ve made this point before, but it’s frustrating when the FBI refuses to answer this committee’s questions in full, but leaks relevant information to the media. I asked then Director Comey in May, 2017 whether he ever served as an anonymous source in news reports about matters released relating to the Trump investigation or Clinton investigation. His response, quote, unquote, “Never.” So the next question to you, Deputy Director McCabe, was that a true and accurate answer based on your experience working for him?
Andrew McCabe: (01:25:27)
Well first, Senator, to be clear, I strongly disagree with your characterization of our investigation of General Flynn. But with respect to your question about Mr. Comey’s testimony to you about being the source of anonymous leaks, I don’t have any information about that. I don’t know.
Senator Grassley: (01:25:52)
In that same May 27th, 2017 hearing, I asked then Director Comey whether he authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or Clinton investigation. His answer was no. So Mr. McCabe, was that a true and accurate answer based on your experience of working for him?
Andrew McCabe: (01:26:22)
I am not aware of a Director Comey authorizing or directing people to be anonymous sources for the media.
Senator Grassley: (01:26:34)
The Justice Department’s Inspector General report on your disclosing of information to the media, lack of candor or lying under oath contained references to a Clinton Foundation investigation. Specifically that report said that you had a conversation with a Justice Department official about the Clinton investigation. And in that conversation, you reportedly stated, quote, “Are you telling me that I need to shut down a valid predicated investigation?” Why did you believe the Clinton Foundation investigation was validly predicated?
Andrew McCabe: (01:27:16)
Well, I’m not sure I can answer that question because it’s beyond the scope of what we were told I’d be questioned about today, and also it would call for me to reveal information that I’m not sure the FBI… I haven’t been authorized by the FBI to discuss. But I would point out, Senator, that the Director and the Deputy Director of the FBI are the only two FBI officials who have the authority and the responsibility to authorize the release of information to the media. And so I think your questions are overlooking that important distinction. So, that’s it.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:28:05)
Thank you. Senator Clover, we’ll go to you in a second. I just want to, based on what you said, you say that you present information to court sometimes that’s not fully proven. Is that right when it comes to a warrant?
Andrew McCabe: (01:28:21)
That’s correct. We often present information in warrants that we have not yet finished verifying.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:28:28)
Do you have an obligation when you find information exculpatory to provide it to the court?
Andrew McCabe: (01:28:36)
In the FISA process, agents are obligated to present information that might cut against the veracity of a source. Or you’re obligated to present information that puts the court in a position to accurately assess whether they believe the source of information you’ve presented.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:29:01)
So that’s why if you alter it an email from the CIA saying that Mr. Page actually was a source, that’s misleading to the court. And that’s why Mr. Kline Smith’s being prosecuted. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (01:29:15)
That is my understanding.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:29:16)
And finally, we’ll go to, when you have information in the possession of the FBI in January and March, where the sub-source basically disallows the legitimacy of the dossier, a lot of it’s bar talk and hearsay, can you tell us how that never made it to you by June of 2017? How could that information have been gathered in January and March of 2017 and not known to the system as late as June, 2017? Do you know? Did you talk to Mr. Auten about this at all?
Andrew McCabe: (01:29:54)
I’m not sure who that was you just referred to, but-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:30:00)
Excuse me. The June, March interview of the sub-source by the FBI was conducted by Mr. Auten and a few other agents. And that’s when the sub-source told us basically that a lot of it was bar talk, hearsay, gutted the reliability of it. My question is, you’ve said if you’d known then what you know now you wouldn’t have signed the warrant application. Do you have an explanation as to why that information never made it to you and others?
Andrew McCabe: (01:30:27)
No, sir. But I think that the team, there is no question that the Crossfire team should have had a much more thorough conversation with the Department of Justice attorneys who were responsible for preparing that package. They should have had full visibility on those facts and made an informed decision as to whether or not they should have been included in the package.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:30:49)
And your testimony is that no one told you about these interviews, the substance of them. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (01:30:56)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:30:56)
Thank you. Senator Klobuchar.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:30:59)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome back, Mr. McCabe. Good to see you. This hearing was set up before this election. I know that. But since we got the notice on this hearing, we now know that we have a new president, President Elect Biden, and a new vice president that we will see in Washington. And that is Vice President Elect Harris. And I just want to make it clear to anyone watching this right now out there in the virtual land that this is all about what happened before the 2016 election. Is that correct, Mr. McCabe, and around that time period?
Andrew McCabe: (01:31:43)
Senator Klobuchar: (01:31:44)
Okay. And in the 2016 election, Donald Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (01:31:52)
That’s my understanding.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:31:54)
Okay. That’s the correct answer. So now we move forward to this election in 2020, and we have a situation where our very democracy has spoken. We’ve had the greatest number of people that voted ever in a presidential election. Are you aware of that, Mr. McCabe?
Andrew McCabe: (01:32:16)
Yes ma’am. I’m aware of that.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:32:18)
And do you think there were some improvements made on how we handled foreign interference in the election?
Andrew McCabe: (01:32:27)
I think it seems… Of course I’m not privy to all the information about what folks know and what steps they took, but it does seem to me that the efforts to bring greater security to our elections at the state level was time and effort well spent.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:32:45)
Yes. And I personally think there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Senator Graham and I have the Honest Ads Act, which I think would be really helpful for ads that are political ads that are taken out to make sure. I think you’re aware of that bill. And I think there’s a lot more that can be done, but I think it’s really-
Senator Klobuchar: (01:33:03)
[inaudible 01:33:00] and I think there’s a lot more than can be done, but I think it’s really important to note that the subject that we’re talking about predates the 2016 election. I want to talk about what’s happening right now with the Justice Department and our election, and I really do it by light of what Vice President Biden said on Saturday night to the nation. He asked that the grim era of demonization be behind us. I’m sure that might’ve resonated with you a bit, Mr. McCabe. And that understanding that some people didn’t agree with him and voted for Donald Trump, but he literally reached out to people who voted for Donald Trump and he said, “Look, I’ve been disappointed before. I’ve lost elections. But I’m asking you to give me a chance, and I’ll give you a chance.”
Senator Klobuchar: (01:33:50)
So that is the approach that I take here, and I know that it’s hard to lose elections. But I think that we need to move on as a country, the pandemic, everything that we have before us, and really the integrity of our justice system. I was actually very disheartened yesterday when Attorney General Barr sent out a memo to the US attorneys throughout the country asking them to examine voting irregularities even before the states could certify their results. I had actually done a letter back on October 23rd when he started questioning mail-in ballots early on and asked them to look at this, because the federal prosecution of election, the Justice Department’s policy says, quote, “Over criminal investigative measures should not be taken, quote, ‘Until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified, and all recounts and election contests concluded.'”
Senator Klobuchar: (01:34:55)
So what happened yesterday is they decided to upend that policy and start getting on this train that there was something wrong with this election when in fact, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia has stood by their election and says there isn’t systematic fraud. The Republicans in Arizona, the governor there, this is a state where Joe Biden basically has won with a few more votes to be counted. You look at what happened in Pennsylvania. My concern is they’re upending this long-standing policy right when the election resulting in a career prosecutor, Mr. [Pillder 01:35:34], I don’t know if you know him, resigned yesterday because he saw this, clearly this was the reason for his resignation as political interference in the work of the Justice Department.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:35:49)
You spent decades in public service, Mr. McCabe, and I want to ask you, what does it mean to to you to see a career Justice Department employee resign like that?
Andrew McCabe: (01:36:00)
Well, I think it’s incredibly concerning, as undoubtedly, Senator, you know from your own experience that people in the Department of Justice are typically committed to long and noble service. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling, what you choose to do with your life. So when people start resigning in protest over decisions that leadership makes, I think we should all take a very close look at that. Yeah, in terms of election fraud, generally, any time you change a well-known, established policy regarding the political process in the middle of the political process, I think it raises some very legitimate concerns about what the motivation for that change was, and I think in the least case, it shines a very dim light on the department and its impartiality.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:37:06)
With a new president coming in, what steps do you think we should be taking to restore public confidence in the department and improve morale in the department?
Andrew McCabe: (01:37:19)
I think from my own experience, I look back on my own experience and some of the decisions we made in the FBI, and of course many of the things that have happened since, and I think a return to the time honored principles in the department and in the bureau of being very careful about what we do and how we do it around the political process, I think that’s something that most people in the department and the bureau would really embrace.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:37:53)
All right. Well, thank you, Mr. McCabe. Thank you very much.
Andrew McCabe: (01:37:58)
Senator Graham: (01:37:59)
Senator Cruz: (01:38:01)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, welcome. I’d like to start by discussing the Flynn. As you know, the FBI team investigating General Flynn prepared a memo dated January 4th, 2017, to close the investigation into Flynn as lacking any basis to continue. The FBI had investigated and failed to find any derogatory information about General Flynn and determined he was no longer a viable candidate for investigation. But then according to Peter Strzok, the seventh floor, the top brass at the FBI intervened to keep the investigation open. Were you the one who made the decision to keep the investigation open?
Andrew McCabe: (01:38:49)
I don’t remember making that decision, but I certainly supported keeping the case open. I don’t remember being the person that made that phone call, but I think that it was the right move to continue investigating once we had uncovered the information that we found.
Senator Cruz: (01:39:06)
So despite the fact that the career investigators concluded that there was no basis and no derogatory information and recommended closing it, you made the decision, or at least you agreed with the decision to keep the investigation open on what basis?
Andrew McCabe: (01:39:22)
Well, I don’t recall that investigators discerned there was no basis to continue. My recollection from the conversations we were having about the Flynn case at the time-
Senator Cruz: (01:39:34)
The memo is a memo to close the investigation because it could not find any, quote, “Derogatory information about Flynn,” and he was, quote, “No longer a viable candidate for investigation.” That’s not ambiguous, is it?
Andrew McCabe: (01:39:48)
No, that’s not the same as what you said before. I, of course, don’t have that memo in front of me, but our feeling at that time was that we had found very little, if any, incriminating evidence about General Flynn, until of course we found potentially very incriminating evidence about him.
Senator Cruz: (01:40:08)
Are you referring to the Logan Act theory?
Andrew McCabe: (01:40:13)
No, sir. I’m referring to the fact that we uncovered that General Flynn was having the sort of direct contact with the government of Russia that we were looking for in all of the first four cases of Crossfire Hurricane.
Senator Cruz: (01:40:28)
Did you support using the Logan Act as a basis to go after General Flynn?
Andrew McCabe: (01:40:35)
The Logan Act was not used as a basis to go after General Flynn. We opened the case [crosstalk 01:40:42]-
Senator Cruz: (01:40:41)
You’re aware of the White House meeting where the notes show that Vice President Biden at the time directly suggested using the Logan Act to go after General Flynn?
Andrew McCabe: (01:40:51)
I’m not aware of that.
Senator Cruz: (01:40:53)
You’re not aware of that? Well, those are notes from your colleagues.
Senator Graham: (01:40:58)
I don’t mean to interrupt, but I do-
Andrew McCabe: (01:41:00)
Senator, I can say the reasons that I agreed with and approved opening the case, and that was because we thought that General Flynn might be having inappropriate contacts with Russia. That’s why we opened the case, [crosstalk 01:41:15].
Senator Cruz: (01:41:15)
Inappropriate, so the only basis, this is a decorated three star general, the only basis that was put forward for what I think was a bogus political persecution and prosecution was an alleged violation of the Logan Act, which has never been used to prosecute anybody in the history of the Department of Justice. True?
Andrew McCabe: (01:41:39)
No, I don’t believe that’s true. I think [crosstalk 01:41:42]-
Senator Cruz: (01:41:42)
Name one person that’s ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act.
Andrew McCabe: (01:41:47)
No, I was referring to why we opened the case against General Flynn. I’m not aware of prosecutions of the Logan Act.
Senator Graham: (01:41:54)
If I may, I think for those who are listening, we’re talking about a conversation between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador after the election while he’s the national security advisor in waiting. Is that correct, Senator Cruz?
Senator Cruz: (01:42:10)
We are. He’s the incoming national security advisor and Mr. McCabe, yesterday on MSNBC, Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security advisor to President Obama, said that, foreign leaders are already having conversations with Joe Biden, quote, “Talking about the agenda they’re going to pursue January 20th.” Mr. McCabe, based on that testimony, do you believe Joe Biden is violating the Logan Act?
Andrew McCabe: (01:42:35)
I’m not aware of Ben Rhodes’ statements or [crosstalk 01:42:39]-
Senator Cruz: (01:42:39)
Take it on faith he said what I read. Assuming that quote is accurate, it’s a verbatim quote, is that a violation of the Logan Act under any plausible theory?
Andrew McCabe: (01:42:49)
I am not prepared to take your statement on faith. I am also not prepared to conduct legal analysis [crosstalk 01:42:57].
Senator Cruz: (01:42:56)
All right, you’re a lawyer. Have you ever answered a hypothetical in court? [crosstalk 01:43:01] If it is correct that I am accurately quoting it, something the Department of Justice frequently did wrong in this investigation, if that is what Ben Rhodes said, if Joe Biden is talking with foreign leaders right now, does it violate the Logan Act? Yes or no?
Andrew McCabe: (01:43:16)
I’m not going to opine on a hypothetical question about what the Biden campaign [crosstalk 01:43:22].
Senator Cruz: (01:43:22)
Okay, he is talking with foreign leaders and it doesn’t violate the Logan Act because the Logan Act is unconstitutional which is why it’s never been used to prosecute anyone. You authorized using it to go after General Flynn as part of a political persecution. I can give you the answer, hell no, Joe Biden is not violating the Logan Act. The reason you won’t say it is because that was your flimsy political basis to go after a decorated war hero, because you disagreed politically with president Trump.
Andrew McCabe: (01:43:49)
Sir, none of that is correct.
Senator Cruz: (01:43:52)
Which part? Pick any aspect.
Andrew McCabe: (01:43:56)
We didn’t investigate General Flynn because we were concerned that he might violate the Logan Act. We were concerned [crosstalk 01:44:03]-
Senator Cruz: (01:44:03)
It is your testimony the Logan Act was not a predicate for the FBI and DOJ investigation of General Flynn? Really?
Andrew McCabe: (01:44:12)
There were no discussions of the Logan Act. [crosstalk 01:44:15]
Senator Cruz: (01:44:15)
There were no discussions of the Logan Act, the FBI, or DOJ? That is your testimony under penalty of perjury before this committee?
Senator Cruz: (01:44:22)
And I warn you, there is abundant evidence that there were.
Andrew McCabe: (01:44:26)
Senator, if you’re not going to let me finish my answer, I’m not going to be able to accurately answer your question.
Senator Cruz: (01:44:32)
Please go ahead. What is your testimony? Is your testimony, you just said, there was no discussion of the Logan Act, does that remain your testimony?
Andrew McCabe: (01:44:41)
No, Senator. That’s where you cut off my testimony.
Senator Cruz: (01:44:44)
Andrew McCabe: (01:44:46)
I would like to finish my answer.
Senator Cruz: (01:44:47)
Andrew McCabe: (01:44:49)
Thank you, thank you. When we initiated the case against General Flynn, it was not initiated for or as a result of any discussion [crosstalk 01:45:01].
Senator Cruz: (01:45:00)
Mr. McCabe, you’re being nonresponsive to the question. I didn’t ask about the initiation. The Logan Act was a late pretext that was adopted after you investigated him and couldn’t find anything and the career investigators recommended closing it. All right, since my time is expiring, although the chairman took a little bit of my time, so I’m going to take a little bit of it back. Did James Comey authorize you to disclose information about the Clinton Foundation investigation to the press?
Andrew McCabe: (01:45:34)
I didn’t need James Comey’s authorization [crosstalk 01:45:37].
Senator Cruz: (01:45:36)
I didn’t ask if you needed it. I asked did he authorize you to disclose it? That’s a yes or no question.
Andrew McCabe: (01:45:42)
I authorized the disclosure [crosstalk 01:45:45].
Senator Cruz: (01:45:44)
Okay, you’re still not answering my question. Did James Comey know about it and did he authorize it? Yes or no? Did he know about it?
Andrew McCabe: (01:45:52)
To my recollection, sir, yes, he knew about it.
Senator Cruz: (01:45:54)
Did he authorize you? Did he in any way give you the green light explicitly or implicitly?
Andrew McCabe: (01:46:02)
I didn’t ask Jim Comey [crosstalk 01:46:04].
Senator Cruz: (01:46:04)
I’m not asking whether you asked. I’m asking… Okay, according to the Washington Times, April 18th, 2018, Mr. McCabe insisted he told his boss that he had authorized disclosure about the Clinton investigation. But Mr. Comey has denied this claim. Mr. McCabe told investigators that Mr. Comey knew he had authorized disclosure and agreed it was a good idea. Is that accurate? Is that your testimony to this committee?
Andrew McCabe: (01:46:30)
That is my recollection.
Senator Cruz: (01:46:33)
You’re aware that your testimony is 180 degrees opposite Mr. Comey’s sworn testimony to this committee in which he insisted he has never authorized anybody to leak to the press?
Andrew McCabe: (01:46:48)
I’m not going to say what Director Comey said or didn’t say to you. However, your characterization of a leak is not accurate.
Senator Cruz: (01:46:58)
The FBI has records that will establish whether you’re telling the truth or Mr. Comey’s telling the truth. Do you believe the FBI should make those records public, so if you’re telling the truth, you can be vindicated? And if Mr. Comey’s telling the truth, he can be vindicated?
Andrew McCabe: (01:47:16)
I’m not sure what records you’re referring to, Senator, but [crosstalk 01:47:20]-
Senator Cruz: (01:47:19)
Any and all emails, correspondence, records whatsoever indicating that Mr. Comey knew of your leaks and authorized them.
Andrew McCabe: (01:47:27)
I would very much like to see those records as well.
Senator Cruz: (01:47:29)
As would I. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (01:47:32)
Senator Blumenthal, but I just want the American people to understand that was it wrong for General Flynn to talk to the Russian ambassador since he was going to be the new incoming national security advisor?
Andrew McCabe: (01:47:48)
Is that a question to me?
Senator Graham: (01:47:49)
Andrew McCabe: (01:47:52)
Our concerns about General Flynn’s contact with Ambassador Kislyak is that the general might be maintaining some sort of hidden or deniable contact and that he might have been a person in the campaign who coordinated efforts with the Russian government. The fact that General Flynn lied about his contacts with the Russians made it doubly concerning to us.
Senator Graham: (01:48:17)
Andrew McCabe: (01:48:18)
The fact that General Flynn then lied to his boss, the vice president, about those contacts also was greatly concerning to us.
Senator Graham: (01:48:26)
Let me just say this. General Flynn told the FBI agents, you have the transcripts, you know what I said, the FBI agents came back and said they didn’t think he lied. But the problem we have here is this is after the election is over, that the national security advisor has every right in the world to be talking to foreign governments, foreign ambassadors. It’s going on as I speak. I’m sure the Biden Administration, believing the have one, is beginning to reach out to foreign governments to talk about their agenda, whether it be China or anybody else. This whole idea that you would surveil the incoming national security advisor after the election, after the professionals in the field said there’s no there or there, bothers a lot of us. Senator Blumenthal?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:49:16)
Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, let me give you an opportunity, since you’ve been interrupted by my colleague in the midst of actually threats of perjury, to clarify any of the answers or expand on them in any way that you would like, if there’s anything you have to add, I’d welcome your remarks. If not, I’ll turn to my question.
Andrew McCabe: (01:49:39)
Thank you, Senator. I think it’s important to keep in perspective that the FBI opens counterintelligence cases sometimes when they suspect that someone may have had inappropriate or improper or illegal contact with a foreign power. During the course of that investigation, if you confirm that that contact has taken place and then you learn that that person is also actively concealing the contact, concealing it from, in General Flynn’s case, the FBI and also from the White House chief of staff, White House council’s office, and the vice president, your fears about possible threat to national security are justifiably elevated. That is what happened in this case, and so questions about a Logan Act prosecution that never took place I think are misplaced.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:50:37)
That’s a really important point, Mr. McCabe. I regret that my colleague isn’t here to hear it, but I’m sure he’ll review the record. We should note, I think, at the beginning that we are now in the midst of a fourth hearing to investigate both the 2016 election and the investigations and investigators who themselves have already been investigated. So we’re spending all the time in the world to look back at 2016 as families and businesses in Connecticut and I think in the states of every one of my colleagues are hanging by a thread due to the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:51:29)
This crisis has been ignored and disregarded by this administration, which is the reason that president Trump was defeated. It is a dereliction of their duty to their constituents and to the American people to continue to focus on a 2016 investigation that already has been investigated, and I think your point about the reasons for that interest in the conversations between potential Trump officials and the Russian ambassador are very well-taken. I also want to say that I am deeply troubled, as my colleagues are, by the statements made by Attorney General Barr, who again, is acting apparently as a puppet of the president rather than a lawyer for the American people.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:52:32)
He is throwing gasoline on the fires of false claims, of fraud, fueling doubts and undermining faith in the integrity of our election process. There are no facts or evidence that justify investigation. He knows it. But he is giving a patina of credibility to baseless and destructive accusation. I would suggest respectfully that Attorney General Barr has taken his office to a new law and the ramifications are profound and dangerous for our country. This kind of scaremongering is no substitute for the truth. The fact is, the votes have been counted and some are being counted. They have shown and will continue to confirm that former Vice President Biden is, in fact, our president elect.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:53:40)
But in the meantime, the litigation challenging the integrity of our election process will continue frivolous and baseless though it is, and now apparently given more credibility by the attorney general of the United States, regretfully and unfortunately. I want to ask you about a threat to our country that is real. Just a few months ago, the FBI director publicly testified to the House committee on homeland security that, quote, “Racially motivated, violent extremism,” end quote, constitutes a majority of domestic terrorism threats. In fact, white supremacists in particular were responsible for 49 homicides and 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016. That’s more than any other extremist movement. Recent attacks include the April 2014 mass shooting at a Jewish community center in Kansas, the June 2015 mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and others.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:54:52)
Mr. McCabe, let me ask you, how long have we known that white supremacists and other far right wing extremists pose significant domestic terrorism, national security, or public security and safety threats to the United States?
Andrew McCabe: (01:55:12)
We’ve known about the threats posed to this country by domestic terrorists and specifically white supremacists and right wing groups for many, many years, certainly long before I even joined the FBI. One of the seminal moments in my desire to join the organization was when I, like the rest of the country, sat in horror on the day that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed in Oklahoma City. So this is not a new threat. I think what’s new for the FBI right now is the focus and intensity they are bringing on this problem set, which is absolutely called for and necessary.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:55:58)
When the president makes the kind of comments that he did, and I’m sure you’re familiar with them, that a particular right wing group should stand back and stand by, do those kinds of comments have an effect on those groups in encouraging them?
Andrew McCabe: (01:56:16)
They absolutely do. Favorable references and shout outs and comments to these fringe groups have the effect of confirming their beliefs. They interpret these comments as signals and signs of approval and support, and really can risk putting more momentum and fervor behind what they’re planning to do.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (01:56:44)
Thank you, Mr. McCabe. My time has expired. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Graham: (01:56:47)
Thank you very much. I think we’re waiting to see-
Andrew McCabe: (01:56:50)
Senator Graham: (01:56:52)
Andrew McCabe: (01:56:52)
I’m sorry, sir, would it be possible just to take a [crosstalk 01:56:55]?
Senator Graham: (01:56:55)
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, sir. Five minutes, is that okay?
Andrew McCabe: (01:57:00)
That would be great. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (01:57:01)
Okay, we’ll take a five minute break. Thank you. (silence) Mr. McCabe? Mr. McCabe? Mr. McCabe?
Andrew McCabe: (02:03:11)
Can you hear me now? Hello? Hello?
Senator Graham: (02:03:13)
Yes, you with us?
Andrew McCabe: (02:03:15)
Yes, sir. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (02:03:16)
I apologize for not… Any time you feel like you need a break, you just let me know. I apologize, I spent over two hours, and I apologize for not remembering that. Senator Hirono?
Senator Hirono: (02:03:29)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to associate myself with the comments made by my colleague, Senator Durbin, and other senators on the Democratic side on why we are here for the fourth time to go over ground already covered, particularly by Inspector General Horowitz’s 434 page report. The witness was asked questions about text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, when it is clear that they did not impact the liberty of the Russian-
Senator Hirono: (02:04:03)
… clear that they did not impact the validity of the Russia investigation. And yet when we have real facts about National Security concerns, such as President Trump, calling the President of Ukraine to shake him down, to help his reelection campaign, my Republican colleagues don’t think that’s a big deal. Now, I can understand why President Trump wanted to get dirt on his potential political opponent, especially as Joe Biden, in fact, defeated President Trump decisively. A fact that many of my Republican colleagues have yet to be able to acknowledge.
Senator Hirono: (02:04:37)
And so we are here for the fourth time for many more hours of hearings on grounds that we’ve already covered instead of dealing with the real questions of the day. So for this witness, you were asked by Senator Blumenthal about the recognized danger of white supremacists. And I just want to reiterate, because I think it is very important for our country to understand the dangers posed by these persons. So in September 2020 FBI Director Ray warned that white supremacy is one of the biggest domestic terrorism threats.
Senator Hirono: (02:05:17)
News reports around the same time also indicated that the Department of Homeland Security had reached a similar conclusion that white supremacists are the deadliest, the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the country. I’d like to ask you again, given your extensive experience in counter-terrorism issues, do you believe that the threat posed by white supremacists is a serious concern?
Andrew McCabe: (02:05:45)
Well, Senator I know that it is a serious concern and I certainly take Director Ray’s assessment, that it is the most serious concern on the counter-terrorism side that we face right now. It makes a lot of sense in light of the fact that as our foreign terrorist targets appear to be in a state of less organization, and their operational activity, and recruitment in this country seems to have tailed off a bit.
Andrew McCabe: (02:06:15)
I don’t have any access to the classified information, but certainly seems that way. There’s no question in that the domestic terrorist scene has not tailed off. If anything, it has increased over the last few years
Senator Hirono: (02:06:29)
And you indicated that the [inaudible 02:06:31] of words used by the president simply a seems to fan those flames of domestic terrorism activities.
Andrew McCabe: (02:06:41)
Senator Hirono: (02:06:41)
I believe you responded that way.
Andrew McCabe: (02:06:45)
Senator Hirono: (02:06:47)
Before the election, President Trump and Attorney General, Bill Barr repeatedly made false claims of mail-in voter fraud. In September, 2020 FBI Director Ray testified before the Senate [inaudible 02:06:58] Security Government Affairs committee that and quote, “We have not seen historically any kind of coordinated national voter fraud in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise. Now that millions of Americans have voted without evidence of fraud, President Trump and the Republicans that refused to recognize the results of the election.
Senator Hirono: (02:07:18)
And instead they have gone to court many times at this point losing pretty much everything. I think they’ve lost every single one of these voter fraud cases to prevent valid [inaudible 02:07:28] from being counted. And President Trump continues to falsely claim that he has won the election with absolutely no evidence.” Given your extensive experience at the FBI, are you aware of any evidence indicating that widespread mail in voter fraud is a problem in our country?
Andrew McCabe: (02:07:51)
I’m not aware of any information to that effect. Director Ray’s assessment is consistent with my own experience in the FBI, that I’ve never seen information that would substantiate an effort, a widespread effort at voter fraud.
Senator Hirono: (02:08:09)
And while my Republican colleagues are very busy talking about how the president has a right to go to court, that still puts the burden proving that there is actual fraud on him. And so far he’s been losing at every turn. So just because one has a right to go to court, does not make it right to go to court. And one would hope that the president would have figured that out by now, but apparently not.
Senator Hirono: (02:08:36)
When you mentioned in your opening that it was an honor and a privilege to work for the FBI, there are concerns from any of us about the politicizing of the FBI and DOJ. Since taking office, President Trump has to repeatedly called on the Justice Department, I.e., at his many rallies where they chant, “Lock her up or lock him up,” or whatever it is to investigate his political opponents, and leaned on Attorney General Barr to treat his allies more favorably.
Senator Hirono: (02:09:06)
For example, under Attorney General Barr, the Justice Department reversed a sentencing recommendation for Trump ally, Roger Stone prompting, all four career prosecutors to withdraw from the case and protest. You have served for 21 years at the FBI. In your memory before President Trump, how many times has a president called for the investigation or arrest of political opponents to aid him in his reelection campaign?
Andrew McCabe: (02:09:40)
I’ve never, not in my experience. I’ve never seen that before.
Senator Hirono: (02:09:43)
And June, 2020, 2, Justice Department, [inaudible 02:09:46] testified. They actually testified before the House about how Trump political appointees intervened in criminal and antitrust cases to advance the personal interest of President Trump.
Senator Hirono: (02:09:57)
What do you think it says about the severity of the politicizing of the Justice Department that two career DOJ lawyers came forward to testify about it before Congress, and all four career prosecutors made the extraordinary move of withdrawing from the Roger Stone case?
Andrew McCabe: (02:10:18)
As I’ve said, Senator career prosecutors don’t walk away from cases that they believe in and cases that they’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to move forward. So when you have any member of the Department Of Justice who feels compelled to resign from a case or from the Department for ethical reasons, that’s a very concerning thing. When you have four on one case resign, I think it’s the sort of thing that we can’t possibly ignore.
Senator Hirono: (02:10:49)
It’s quite extraordinary. And I would like, at this point, to command all of the career DOJ people, including of course, all the people at the FBI for doing the jobs that they’re supposed to be doing and not making political decisions. Now, we know that hate crimes against the AAPI community has gone up. And especially with the president calling the virus, the China virus, the Wuhan virus and members of his administration have also referred to it as kung flu.
Senator Hirono: (02:11:19)
So there has been documented increase in hate crimes against AAPI communities. To be achieved. Given your extensive experience at the FBI, do you think the FBI and Justice Department are doing enough to address hate crimes in our country, including against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. And do you know of any prosecution by the DOJ on any of these hate crimes?
Andrew McCabe: (02:11:46)
I’m not aware of recent prosecutions of hate crimes. Again, I don’t have access to all of the information that the FBI or DOJ has. And so I can’t speak to whether they’re doing that work or not. It certainly seems that those sort of incidents, just from what I hear in open-source reporting seem to be on the rise. And I would expect that the Bureau and DOJ should be looking at those things very closely.
Senator Hirono: (02:12:12)
I should hope so, because so far, I don’t know of any indictments coming down on these types of cases. I believe my time is up. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. McCabe.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:12:23)
Thank you very much, Senator. I think we have Senator Hawley on the line, but I got to just a real brief inquiry here. Mr. McCabe, what is the defensive briefing?
Andrew McCabe: (02:12:35)
The defensive briefing is typically when we reach out to an individual who we think might be the subject of some sort of malign activity from a foreign government or a foreign power and try to make them aware of the threats that they might come across.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:12:57)
An example would be, I think Senator Feinstein had a staff member that was suspected of being connected to the Chinese Intelligence Community, and she was briefed about that. Is that correct? Would that be an example?
Andrew McCabe: (02:13:12)
That sounds like the sort of information, or sort of situation in which you would give a defense briefing [inaudible 02:13:17].
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:13:17)
And she took corrective action by dismissing that person. Was there ever a defensive briefing given to Hillary Clinton about concerns about her campaign being reached out to, or interfered regarding foreign actors?
Andrew McCabe: (02:13:36)
I’m not sure Senator. I saw some of the documents on the committee’s website seemed to indicate that, but I don’t have an independent recollection of that briefing.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:13:49)
Well, I can just assure you that she was, there was a suspicion that a foreign government may have been trying to aid her campaign. She was briefed about it. The counter-intelligence investigations are designed to protect entities from foreign influence. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:14:06)
I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:14:07)
Counter-intelligence investigations are designed to protect American interest against foreign influence. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:14:15)
That’s right. Counter-intelligence investigations are designed to mitigate threats to national security.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:14:21)
Sure. So like Senator Feinstein could fire somebody that was on her staff to mitigate it. Is that a good example?
Andrew McCabe: (02:14:28)
That could certainly be one way to mitigate a threat.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:14:31)
At any time during the multiple counter intelligence investigations that were conducted against Trump Campaign Officials was there ever defensive briefing given to President Trump about the concerns you had about Mr. Papadopoulos, Carter Page, or anyone else, including General Flynn?
Andrew McCabe: (02:14:54)
Not that I’m aware of.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:14:56)
Andrew McCabe: (02:15:00)
Well, Senator, we typically don’t provide defensive briefings when we feel that they could run the risk of compromising the investigations that we’re undertaking. So before we provide a briefing, we try to determine whether or not that briefing will ultimately get communicated back to the target, or somehow obstruct our ability to shed some light on whether or not there’s actually a threat to national security.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:15:26)
So when it came to Papadopoulos, you never told the Trump campaign, you may have a problem with him?
Andrew McCabe: (02:15:33)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:15:35)
When it comes to Carter page, he never sat down with President Trump, “We’ve got concerns about Carter page,”?
Andrew McCabe: (02:15:41)
I do not believe that happened to him. That’s correct.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:15:44)
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:15:48)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start by saying that I heard, I think, my Democrat colleagues wondering aloud why it is that we’re here today. I have to say, I would’ve thought that would have been obvious by now. That we’re here because looking at maybe the biggest scandal in the history of the FBI. We’re looking at the use of the FBI to interfere in a presidential election. We’re looking at the use of the FBI to lie to the Pfizer Court.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:16:15)
To so misrepresent facts, statements, and other material to this court that the court had to issue a statement saying that they could not trust the FBI, not only in this case, but in potentially every other case going forward. Absolutely unbelievable. Unprecedented for a court to issue a rebuke of this nature. And I have to say the fact that my Democrat colleagues want to just shrug and move on in the face of this kind of interference, this kind of inappropriate behavior, this abuse of power, which is what it is, really extraordinary.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:16:46)
Of course, the individual we have before us today has an entire report written by the IG about how he lied, repeatedly. And so that’s why we’re here. And by the way, now that we’re in the middle of another election, the outcome of which is still disputed and unknown, and people are wondering why is it that so many Americans don’t have trust in the electoral process?
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:17:06)
This is why they don’t have trust in electoral process. This is why. It’s because we’ve seen instance after instance of the abuse of the institutions of this country to try to interfere with the voice and the will of we, the people. And we’re looking at it today. That’s what this is about. If anybody had any question, that’s what this is about.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:17:25)
Now, let’s talk a little bit about that lying to the Pfizer court, which the FBI did repeatedly, and DOJ signed off on. Mr. McCabe, let me come to you now. I’ve had at something of a personal quest here to try to find somebody who will take some responsibility for these warrants that they signed off on, for these applications that they personally signed off on. You signed off on a renewal application for the Carter Page Pfizer warrant on June 28th, 2017. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:17:52)
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:17:56)
Now by January of 2017, the FBI had identified and interview Christopher Steele’s primary sub source. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:18:04)
That is correct.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:18:06)
And those interviews cast serious doubts on the accuracy of the Steele dossier, to put it mildly. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:18:13)
I know that now. Yes.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:18:16)
The Pfizer renewal application that you signed, however, did not acknowledge any of those facts. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:18:24)
The Pfizer package that I signed contained the errors that are laid out in the IG report.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:18:34)
Uh-huh (affirmative). And by December of 2016, so this is months before the renewal application, the Crossfire Hurricane team knew that the primary sub source of the Steele dossier was suspected of being a Russian asset. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:18:51)
I don’t believe that’s correct. No, I don’t know that to be the case.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:18:56)
So your testimony under oath is that the Crossfire Hurricane did not know that the primary sub source was potentially a Russian agent as of December, 2016?
Andrew McCabe: (02:19:06)
I can’t tell you what the members of the team thought about the primary sub source in December of 2016. If you’re referring to the recent footnote from the Pfizer report, that was declassified by the attorney general, then no, I don’t know that they knew that then. I can’t say what they knew.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:19:29)
The Pfizer application that you signed contained none of this though, correct? It contained no new disclosures to the court. It contained none of the information that the FBI absolutely knew of. It contained nothing to give the court any pause about anything that you’d previously certified. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:19:48)
Well, I think we should be specific about what-
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:19:53)
No, no, no just answer my question. Did the application that you personally signed, did it disclose the interviews back from January of 2017, that you just said that you were aware of, that the FBI was aware of the OIG report details [inaudible 02:20:08] pages 187, 188 and 189 of his report.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:20:11)
You can go look it up. He’s had a lot to say about you. You can go look up that IG report. They say that the FBI knew of the problems with Christopher Steele’s primary sub source and did not disclose it to the court. Isn’t that correct? Yes or no.
Andrew McCabe: (02:20:27)
The IG report, as my understanding, sir, detailed 17 errors that were present in the package that you’re referring to.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:20:37)
Mr. McCabe [crosstalk 02:20:37] answer my question. Did the report that you personally signed, did it disclose the FBI’s interviews in January of 2017? You signed the new application in June of 2017. Did it disclose the interviews casting serious doubt on the primary sub source? Yes or no. We both know the answer is no, but why don’t you just say it? No, right?
Andrew McCabe: (02:21:00)
It did not disclose serious concerns with the primary sub source.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:21:06)
Why didn’t it? Why didn’t you notify the court of this new information? Is it because you wanted to continue to undermine the election of Donald Trump? Let me ask you this. Didn’t you send a text message on June 24, 2016 saying that, “I hope the Brexit vote doesn’t predict a similar outcome here in November,”?
Andrew McCabe: (02:21:28)
Okay. So I’d like to answer that. I’d like to answer your question, sir, but I’m going to need a little bit of space to get in a complete answer.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:21:36)
Answer that question. Why did you send that text message?
Andrew McCabe: (02:21:39)
Sir, as you know, I have not been able to review my texts. I do not have my texts in front of me here. I requested access to my materials. It was denied that access. So I’m not prepared to answer your questions based on my text messages.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:21:54)
Is it because you don’t recall them or you deny it. Here’s what it says. Quote, “I hope it,” meaning the Brexit vote, “Doesn’t predict a similar outcome here in November,” end quote. June 24, 2016. Do you not deny sending that message?
Andrew McCabe: (02:22:09)
I don’t know, sir. I haven’t seen any of those text messages in over four years. And I’d like to give you a complete answer, but I’m having a hard time when you speak over me, it cuts off my ability to respond.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:22:24)
Well, why don’t you answer my question? Do you have no memory of that text message? Is that what you’re saying of June 24th, 2016?
Andrew McCabe: (02:22:30)
Sir, I don’t remember text messages I sent in 2016 that I haven’t seen since then. So yes. I don’t have a recollection of text messages from four years ago. That’s correct.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:22:40)
Very convenient. I noticed that everybody who come [crosstalk 02:22:42]-
Andrew McCabe: (02:22:43)
It would be much less convenient-
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:22:44)
I’m not done talking.
Andrew McCabe: (02:22:45)
It would have been really convenient to be able to review those materials before today.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:22:50)
[crosstalk 02:22:50] memory lapses. Including you, Mr. McCabe. It’s really extraordinary. Really extraordinary. Let me ask you about this text message. Peter Strzok, sent this to Lisa Page on August 15th, 2016. ” I want to believe that path that you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office,” that’s you. “That there’s no way he gets elected,” that’s Trump. “But I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:23:10)
I’d like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40. Why were you talking about the likely outcome of an election with two line agents who were working on a case, the Carter page investigation at that time, involving the president? Don’t you think that’s inappropriate?
Andrew McCabe: (02:23:33)
I think the premise of your question is not accurate. I don’t recollect ever talking to Peter Strzok or Lisa Page, only one of whom is an agent in the FBI, about the election or about that conversation that is referenced in their text message, which I was not a part of.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:23:49)
Oh, okay. So you’re saying that that didn’t happen? You deny that that happened?
Andrew McCabe: (02:23:53)
I don’t recall that ever happening.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:23:56)
Well, just before we leave the Pfizer warrant application that you signed, the renewal application, how was it that the court was so deliberately and disastrously misled such that it had to issue a public review to the FBI? Do you take responsibility?
Andrew McCabe: (02:24:13)
I disagree with your characterization that the court was deliberately misled.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:24:17)
Andrew McCabe: (02:24:19)
Yeah. That’s correct.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:24:20)
Do you think it was just an accident?
Andrew McCabe: (02:24:24)
I think that there were numerous and objectionable errors and omissions in that package, but I don’t-
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:24:32)
Do you think the falsification of the email to the Pfizer Court was an accident?
Andrew McCabe: (02:24:40)
Senator, I am not aware of… Okay. Mr. Clinesmith’s activities, I was not aware of until I read the IG report. I know that he has taken responsibility for those representations, and I understand that the errors and emissions in that package, other than Mr. Clinesmith’s admitted activities over the report from the CIA, I do not know any of those other errors to have been proven to be intentional acts.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:25:13)
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:25:13)
Okay. So we’ve established that-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:25:16)
Senator Hawley, your time has expired.
Senator Josh Hawley: (02:25:20)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:25:20)
Okay. Senator Blackburn.
Senator Blackburn: (02:25:23)
And thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, thank you for being with us today. Listening to you, just answering Senator Hawley’s question, it reminded me that you are spending a lot of your time on CNN these days. And of course, this is not a debate on CNN. This is a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And I have to say, when did you go to CNN?
Andrew McCabe: (02:25:52)
Sorry. Was that a question of when I-
Senator Blackburn: (02:26:00)
Yeah. I’ll answer it for you. Was it in August? Was it in 2019? I think that may be right. I think you’re pretty lucky to have landed-
Andrew McCabe: (02:26:08)
It might be, I don’t remember the exact dates.
Senator Blackburn: (02:26:10)
Andrew McCabe: (02:26:12)
I’m sorry. I don’t remember the exact date center, but that sounds about right.
Senator Blackburn: (02:26:15)
Sounds right. Yeah. I think you’re pretty lucky to have landed a job pretty much anywhere after having been fired from the FBI. And I think that the IG publicly flogging you in his report, and the AG fired you a month later. And that was a pretty sad demise, I guess, of your career in public service. And you were set to retire at the tender young age of 49. Isn’t that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:26:55)
No, ma’am, that’s not correct.
Senator Blackburn: (02:26:58)
Okay. What is correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:27:01)
FBI agents become eligible to retire when they reach age 50.
Senator Blackburn: (02:27:06)
Okay. All right. And you’ve got a lawsuit against the Federal Government now claiming that you had a record of unblemished and non-partisan public service, and you’re demanding that the court re-instate your employment as Deputy Director of the FBI and pay you your full pension. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:27:29)
That sounds correct, ma’am.. But I’ll let the legal papers speak for themselves.
Senator Blackburn: (02:27:33)
Let me ask you this, listening to you today and having read some of the things around your career. How did you get caught up in such a web of deceit, and obstruction, and cover up? And is this culture standard operating procedure at the FBI?
Andrew McCabe: (02:28:01)
Well, I’m not sure I understand the point of your question. But I also [crosstalk 02:28:05]-
Senator Blackburn: (02:28:06)
The point of my question is this, I’ll help you with it.
Andrew McCabe: (02:28:09)
[crosstalk 02:28:09] at the FBI.
Senator Blackburn: (02:28:09)
Let me help you with that. You didn’t want to answer Senator Cruz’s questions about corruption, and I can understand why. But what you have to understand, that as overconfident as you all were in the plot that you were carrying out at the FBI, in your government job paid for by taxpayer dollars. You all had created this web and culture of corruption, and cover up, and obstruction. And you thought you would be able to get by with it, but you got caught.
Senator Blackburn: (02:28:56)
You’ve said today that you wish you could reconsider your decision requesting the Pfizer warrant on Carter Page, and whether or not Director Comey should have held the press conference on Hillary Clinton. And listening to your answers, I have never heard of an action… Every criminal I have heard in a case, they generally will say, they wish they hadn’t committed the crime, or that someone who has done something wrong wishes they had not done that wrong. So, you took these actions. You’ve been called out by the IG and the AG. Why shouldn’t you be prosecuted for your actions?
Andrew McCabe: (02:29:55)
Senator, first of all, there was absolutely no plot, or scheme, or conspiracy between myself or any of the folks that I worked with in the work that you’ve referred to. Okay? Secondly, I’m not aware of a single, other than Mr. Clinesmith’s admissions, I am not aware of a single act or even an allegation against anyone who was involved in these cases [crosstalk 02:30:20]-
Senator Blackburn: (02:30:20)
Was the IG wrong?
Andrew McCabe: (02:30:24)
[crosstalk 02:30:24] I’d like to finish my answer, Senator
Senator Blackburn: (02:30:26)
Well, it’s my time. And I’ve only got two minutes left. How long have you known Christopher Steele?
Andrew McCabe: (02:30:33)
I do not know Christopher Steele.
Senator Blackburn: (02:30:35)
I think you’ve known him about two decades. Right? How long has Bruce Ohr known Christopher Steele?
Andrew McCabe: (02:30:42)
To be clear, Senator, I don’t know Christopher Steele. I’ve never met Christopher Steele, so that’s not correct. And I can’t tell you how long Bruce Ohr has known Christopher Steele.
Senator Blackburn: (02:30:55)
Okay. The exculpatory information on Carter Page’s recorded conversations, and that was not disclosed. What are the consequences under the FBI rules for when an FBI agent lies, or otherwise misleads a federal court?
Andrew McCabe: (02:31:25)
The failure to disclose the Carter Page information is not, as far as I’m aware, was not determined to be a deliberate misrepresentation to the court. So to answer your question about misrepresentations to the court, generally, FBI people would be disciplined in the same way anyone in the Judicial System would, if they were found to have deliberately and intentionally misled the court.
Senator Blackburn: (02:31:52)
So you feel like no one did anything wrong?
Andrew McCabe: (02:31:57)
I am simply following the findings of the Inspector General, which documented Mr. Clinesmith’s intentional acts, but failed to find any evidence, documentary or testimonial, to indicate that the other mistakes in the Pfizer package were the result of intentional misconduct.
Senator Blackburn: (02:32:17)
Do you think you were wrongly fired?
Andrew McCabe: (02:32:21)
Yes. Yes, I do think I was wrongly fired. Yes.
Senator Blackburn: (02:32:25)
And you think you did nothing wrong?
Andrew McCabe: (02:32:29)
Senator Blackburn: (02:32:30)
Even though the IG pointed out that you did, and even though you all had a culture of corruption and cover up that you thought it was okay to spy on Carter Page. It was okay to mislead Michael Flynn. This is a sad state of affairs. And I am pleased that you are no longer a part of the FBI.
Andrew McCabe: (02:32:54)
Senator. I’d like to answer those allegations.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:32:56)
Please go ahead.
Andrew McCabe: (02:32:58)
Yeah. So, no, I categorically refuse to agree with your assertions. No one, that I am aware of, in the FBI conducted any activity that should leave them susceptible to criminal prosecution. Certainly including myself as someone who’s now been the subject of investigative activity for years, for the subject of a baseless investigation conducted by US Attorney’s Office for almost two years, which concluded in a dismissal of their case.
Andrew McCabe: (02:33:33)
So, no, I don’t believe that I committed any crime. I know I never committed any crime working for the FBI. And yes, I believe that the conclusions in the IGs report were baseless. I believe it was a flawed and misleading and deeply unfair investigation that led to my unfair termination. Thank you.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:33:53)
Senator Blackburn: (02:33:53)
Well, if you know nothing about what was done, and Yates, and Rosenstein, and Comey all said, they knew nothing about any of this, how in the world did it get so far off track? Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:34:10)
Thank you. We’ll go to Senator Kennedy next. But this is important point. If somebody knew that the dossier was unreliable, do they have a duty to report to the system the information they found?
Andrew McCabe: (02:34:27)
I think that’s true. Yes.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:34:29)
Okay. Is it fair to fire somebody who knew and failed to report?
Andrew McCabe: (02:34:36)
Well, it would depend, I guess, on the circumstances of where and how that happened. But it certainly seems like that could be the result.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:34:43)
Yeah. Mr. McCabe, here’s the problem. The problem is that June of 2016, it was pretty clear that the document, the dossier, was no longer reliable. That multiple stop signs had been run. That the CIA is suggesting that maybe Hillary Clinton signed off a plan to cook this whole thing up. She was defense [inaudible 00:02:35:00], Trump never-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:35:03)
This whole thing up. She was defensively aggrieved, Trump never was. And the fact that this information was gathered in January and March, is stunning to now know that the sub source disavowed the document that was used to get a warrant and nobody at the top had any idea that that occurred is just earth-shatteringly disappointing. Do you understand how people could be disappointed in that?
Andrew McCabe: (02:35:28)
I do understand how people could be disappointed in that, sir. I’m disappointed in it myself. Yeah.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:35:33)
And the point is after a while, Mr. McCabe, it gets to be hard to reconcile all of this and come out and say that there was, is it still your testimony that the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign were equally treated when it came to allegations?
Andrew McCabe: (02:35:51)
I think that the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign were treated very differently in the context of two very different investigations.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:35:59)
I’m just saying that it seems to me that allegations were made by both. And I’ll close, I’ll sum that all up. Senator Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy: (02:36:09)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, who is responsible for the misbehavior outlined by an Inspector General Horowitz in his report about Misfire Hurricane?
Andrew McCabe: (02:36:28)
Well, it depends on what you’re referring to, Senator. If you’re referring to the intentional misconduct committed by Mr. Clinesmith, quite obviously, Mr. Clinesmith’s responsible for that. I think from a command perspective, Director Comey and myself and our subordinate leaders are all responsible for the failures in that package that we’re allowed to go forward. But if you’re asking me who is responsible for intentional misconduct beyond Mr. Clinesmith’s activity, I’m not aware that there’s been a finding that others were engaged in intentional misconduct.
Senator Kennedy: (02:37:06)
While you were either director or acting director of the FBI, the FBI decided to investigate two presidential campaigns, one, Secretary Clinton, the other one, then candidate Trump and later President Trump. I want to put aside Secretary Clinton for a second. When the FBI decided to investigate candidate Donald Trump, what questions did you ask? I mean, at some point somebody came to you and said, Hey, Mr. Deputy Director, just so you’ll know, we’re going to investigate the Republican nominee for President of the United States. You remember when you were told that?
Andrew McCabe: (02:38:08)
So if you’re referring to our initiation of the Crossfire investigation, so the investigation of the Trump campaign, I do remember conversations at the end of July 2016 after-
Senator Kennedy: (02:38:23)
Excuse me for interrupting. I apologize. Would it be fair to say that the Christopher Steele dossier was the keystone of the investigation?
Andrew McCabe: (02:38:36)
No, sir. That’s not accurate.
Senator Kennedy: (02:38:37)
Oh, how important was it? What word would you use?
Andrew McCabe: (02:38:44)
It had no importance. We were not in possession of that information when we initiated the case.
Senator Kennedy: (02:38:50)
So you’re telling me when you initiated the case, Christopher Steele’s dossier had nothing to do with your decision to go forward.
Andrew McCabe: (02:38:58)
Senator Kennedy: (02:38:59)
Okay. That’s your testimony today? Under oath?
Andrew McCabe: (02:39:03)
Senator Kennedy: (02:39:04)
Okay. At some point, the Christopher Steele dossier became important, did it not?
Andrew McCabe: (02:39:11)
The Christopher Steele reporting came to us in the middle of September and it became important to us at that time.
Senator Kennedy: (02:39:18)
Okay. Now, when you heard about the Christopher Steele dossier, did you ask to interview Mr. Steele? I mean, you’re only investigating a candidate for president of the United States after you’ve already investigated one. Now you’re on the second. Did you say, Hey, I’m the deputy director here, I’m responsible. I want to talk to Christopher Steele. Did you do that?
Andrew McCabe: (02:39:43)
I did not personally speak to Mr. Steel, but our investigative team traveled overseas.
Senator Kennedy: (02:39:50)
Why not? You’re the deputy. What I don’t understand about this whole thing, Mr. McCabe. You’re the deputy director of the FBI. And your people have decided to investigate the Republican nominee for president of the United States after already investigating the democratic nominee. And at least in part, at some point it was based on the Chris Steele dossier. Now you can run from that one, but you can’t hide from it. Did you ever call your guys in or gals and say, Hey, just a thought, I think I’d like to talk to Chris Steele to see how credible this guy is, because you say you’ve never known him. Did you do that?
Andrew McCabe: (02:40:35)
Senator, in my entire experience of 21 years as an FBI agent, I am not aware of a single instance of the deputy director of the FBI interviewing a source. And I did not.
Senator Kennedy: (02:40:46)
How many nominees for President of the United States have you investigated?
Andrew McCabe: (02:40:53)
I can’t comment on that, sir.
Senator Kennedy: (02:40:55)
You’re telling me at no point you ever sat down and said, wait a minute, guys, this is now all based or substantially based on Chris Steele. I want to talk to this cowboy. You never did that.
Andrew McCabe: (02:41:11)
That is not an accurate characterization of our investigation.
Senator Kennedy: (02:41:15)
That’s what you just said. You said you’d never talked to him. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth.
Andrew McCabe: (02:41:21)
No, sir. I’m just trying to clarify that the Steele information didn’t come to us until two and a half months after we’d opened the case.
Senator Kennedy: (02:41:28)
Well, when it came to you, did you say, wait a minute, guys, this is my reputation on the line. I want to talk to Christopher Steele.
Andrew McCabe: (02:41:40)
No, Senator. I sent my investigators to conduct the investigation.
Senator Kennedy: (02:41:49)
Do you know who Igor Danchenko is?
Andrew McCabe: (02:41:54)
I do not.
Senator Kennedy: (02:41:55)
You have no idea who that is, even today?
Andrew McCabe: (02:42:00)
I am not going to speculate as to who he is.
Senator Kennedy: (02:42:03)
Well, he was the sub source that the Steele dossier was based on. [crosstalk 02:42:11] So you’re telling me, I’m want to be sure I understand. You’re the assistant director of the FBI. You’ve decided to investigate the Trump campaign. You get this dossier, which whether you admit it or not was the basis for all the FISA warrants. You never sat down and so I want to talk to Chris Steele. If you had talked to Chris Steele, you would have found out that his sub source was Igor Danchenko. That was his primary sub source. Danchenko wasn’t from Russia. He was some guy in Washington, DC working for Brookings. He went to University of Louisville. He went to Georgetown. He was buddies with Dr. Fiona Hill. He was relying on his drinking buddies. Why didn’t all of you folks who are running the show say, wait a minute, this is all centered around Chris Steele, we better talk to Steele and we better talk to this guy, Danchenko?
Andrew McCabe: (02:43:14)
Senator, it’s important that I get this out. So if you could give me just a second.
Senator Kennedy: (02:43:19)
Andrew McCabe: (02:43:20)
I am not sure that the … I have now read the report of the sub source interview and the interviewee’s name is still redacted in that report. So I do not feel comfortable acknowledging or confirming or denying any identity that might be associated with that person.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:43:43)
His own lawyers said-
Senator Kennedy: (02:43:45)
Here’s what it looks like to the American people, Mr. McCabe. The FBI didn’t even try here, the people making the decisions. You wanted to investigate Trump. I mean, this is a nominee for president of United States. You’ve already investigated the other one and potentially screwed up her campaign. And so you get the Steele dossier. You don’t sit down, you personally, and Comey, you don’t talk to Chris Steele. You don’t even ask questions about where he got his information. Had you done that, you would’ve found that he got it from Danchenko. Danchenko is a jelly head. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and it all would have come apart, but you never looked and it sort of looks like you didn’t want to.
Andrew McCabe: (02:44:43)
Is that a question?
Senator Kennedy: (02:44:44)
Andrew McCabe: (02:44:48)
I can’t possibly disagree more strongly with the way you framed that question. That while it is true, that I never set personally with Mr. Steele or any of his alleged sources, our team spent a great deal of effort interviewing him, interviewing other people that they thought were relevant and trying to get to the bottom of the material that he provided. So, no, we were not predisposed to investigating the president. It wasn’t something we sought out to do, but we felt that the potential national security threat put us in a position where we were obligated to investigate. That’s what we did.
Senator Kennedy: (02:45:34)
And you expect the American people to believe that?
Andrew McCabe: (02:45:39)
That is the truth. And I certainly hope they believe it.
Senator Kennedy: (02:45:44)
General Flynn has been prosecuted for lying to the FBI. You lied to the FBI and you aren’t being prosecuted. Don’t you think that sends the wrong message to the American people?
Andrew McCabe: (02:46:00)
Senator, General Flynn’s situation and mine have absolutely nothing in common. I never ever intentionally misled the FBI or the IG under any circumstances. And I think that’s probably the conclusion that the US attorney’s office came to when they dismissed the two year investigation of the-
Senator Kennedy: (02:46:20)
You weren’t fired for parking in the handicap parking spot at the FBI, were you? You were fired for lying, were you not?
Andrew McCabe: (02:46:30)
I was fired as the result of a deeply unfair and flawed IG investigation. And I am challenging that termination in federal court.
Senator Kennedy: (02:46:39)
Okay. Last question. Do you have any idea, Mr. McCabe, I don’t think Mr. Comey does. do you have any idea how badly you and your colleagues have hurt the FBI? I mean the premier law enforcement agency in all of human history, and it was just a handful of you, and now when the average American gets a knock on his or her door, FBI need to talk to you. At least half of them are thinking, Oh my gosh, is the agent of Republican or Democrat. They probably know my party affiliation. You have any idea how much damage you’ve done?
Andrew McCabe: (02:47:25)
Sir, my colleagues and I never took any action to undermine our effectiveness, undermine our oath to this constitution and the American people and the work that we did for the FBI. I deeply regret how politicized the FBI has become in light of the rhetoric and the relentless attacks levied upon it over the last four years. And I have great faith that my former colleagues will continue to do their work and ignore those sort of baseless attacks.
Senator Kennedy: (02:47:59)
At best what you and Mr. Comey and the others did, at worst, it was intentional. And I don’t know what’s in your head or your heart, but I can tell you what it looked like to the American people. At the very minimum, an incompetence tsunami. And they’re thinking, how did these guys make it through the birth canal? Yeah, that’s all I got, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:48:23)
Thank you. Just to put a fine point on this and we’ll let you go, Mr. McCabe. Thank you for coming. Did you have regular meetings with the people in charge of Crossfire Hurricane?
Andrew McCabe: (02:48:39)
We had regular meetings, we had impromptu meetings. There were a lot of the meetings.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:48:43)
You took it seriously. Is that correct?
Andrew McCabe: (02:48:48)
I think everybody took it seriously.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:48:50)
So was Peter Strzok your main source of information?
Andrew McCabe: (02:48:57)
Peter Strzok was one of many sources of information. I met very regularly with Mr. Steinbach, Mr. Priestap, our general counsel, deputy general counsel. There are quite a few people involved at that way.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:49:09)
Did they tell you that the sub source was being interviewed in January?
Andrew McCabe: (02:49:15)
I did know that the sub source had been interviewed. That’s correct.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:49:19)
Did you ever ask the question, how did that interview go? Did it help us with a warrant application? Did it undermine the warrant application? Did you ask any questions about the results of the interview?
Andrew McCabe: (02:49:33)
I did. I remember discussing it very briefly and I was not informed of any concerns with, significant concerns with the things that the witness told them.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:49:44)
Who did you talk to about the interview? Do you recall?
Andrew McCabe: (02:49:48)
I do not recall, sir.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:49:52)
You remember being told about the [inaudible 00:14:54], were you told about the March interview?
Andrew McCabe: (02:49:58)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:50:00)
So here’s the question, I guess. If you asked them how did the interview go and nobody tells you that it basically destroyed the dossier, if that’s not criminal, is it grossly negligent not to get that information to you?
Andrew McCabe: (02:50:22)
I think that the case team should have had much more detailed conversation within themselves. And also with the department attorneys who were writing the FISA-
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:50:32)
Is the blame-
Andrew McCabe: (02:50:33)
Senator, I think the information that they included in the FISA package about that interview, albeit wildly misleading, I think it reflects how they thought about the interview at that time. And I think they didn’t think about it critically.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:50:50)
If you look at this interview and you’re not wowed by how unreliable the dossier is, you don’t want to see it as being unreliable. Now you’re in charge. The number two guy of one of the most consequential investigations in the history of the FBI. It begins to fall apart. One stop sign after another is presented to the FBI. The CIA tells the FBI that this is internet rumor. You need to watch Christopher Steele. The State Department talks about him trying to take Trump down. Bruce Ohr talks about you need to watch this guy. When this sub source is actually interviewed, he shreds the document as being reliable and nothing seemed to work when it came to making sure that the true facts got out to the court and others, nothing seemed to work. Can you give me an explanation as to why? When it came to the exculpatory part of this, nothing seemed to work the way it should.
Andrew McCabe: (02:51:57)
Senator, I can only rely on the findings I’ve read in the IG report.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:52:02)
But you were the number two guy. You were in charge of all this. How is it possible that the number two guy in the FBI was not informed about these major breakdowns regarding the reliability of the dossier? Were you not informed about the email from the CIA saying, yeah, actually Carter Page, he was a source for us.
Andrew McCabe: (02:52:29)
Senator, I can’t answer for you why I did not know something at the time.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:52:34)
Okay. Well that’s the-
Andrew McCabe: (02:52:35)
I can’t comment on that.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:52:36)
Yeah. That’s the purpose of the hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to make sure that we find answers to how the system failed so it doesn’t fail again. And I appreciate you coming. I’m sorry, I didn’t give you a break and we will continue in spite of my democratic colleagues protestations. We’re going to find somebody accountable for something when it comes to Crossfire Hurricane. And thank you very much, Mr. McCabe for participating in the hearing. I appreciate it very, very much and wish you the best.
Andrew McCabe: (02:53:08)
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:53:09)
All right. Now, as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, It’s just astonishing to me that so much was ignored so often. And you come to the conclusion, there is no, there, there. So what do we know? We know that no defensive briefing was given to President Trump about concerns regarding his campaign. But when there were concerns regarding the Clinton campaign and foreign influence, she was briefed. We know that Senator Feinstein was briefed when the FBI thought maybe a member of her staff was connected to the Chinese intelligence community. all of these investigations of the Trump campaign were counter-intelligence investigations. Not one mentioned to president Trump, you may have a problem with Papadopoulos. Well, if you look at the transcripts of the bar talk with Mr. Papadopoulos, he says in the transcripts, he didn’t even know he’s being recorded. That no, he’s not working with the Russians. He hasn’t received any information from Russia. That would be treason. That would be a crime.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:54:10)
The whole premise of Crossfire Hurricane was a report by an Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom that was given to somebody in our office in London, that makes its way back to Washington. They’ve got all this information where Papadopoulos denies working with the Russians and they just plow ahead. Compare that to the September CIA memo to the FBI, suggesting that Hillary Clinton has signed off on a plan to link Trump to Russia, to draw attention away from her email server problem. This is our CIA telling the FBI they have credible information and investigative lead that Hillary Clinton, the democratic nominee, is trying to link Trump to Russia for political purposes and the FBI completely ignored it. Apparently threw it in the garbage can and considered an Australian ambassador meeting in a bar, more reliable. Didn’t give it one minute of attention.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:55:13)
And the reason that’s important, it begins to explain how this all happened. Christopher Steele was on the payroll of Fusion GPS who was on the payroll of the democratic party. Christopher Steele was working for the democratic party. He provided a dossier that used a Russian source, who was suspected of being a Russian agent years before. And it turned out to be a bunch of garbage. So the reason the FBI should have looked at what the CIA had told them is it begins to make Crossfire Hurricane make more sense, that this whole thing was cooked up in July. That the whole idea of Trump/Russia connections were not real. They were manufactured in part by Christopher Steele and the FBI bought it hook, line and sinker. So I think a lot of us on our side are just astonished that when the CIA sends over information to the FBI, that they have intelligence that Hillary Clinton signed off on a plan to connect Trump to Russia to divert attention from her, that nobody at the FBI did a damn thing about it.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:56:23)
Well, who did they send it to? Peter Strzok? Are you going to have me believe that Peter Strzok was fair-minded when it came to Trump/Clinton? Doesn’t it make a lot of sense that the person who hated Trump, thought he should lose a hundred million to nothing, thought he was an idiot, totally invested in making sure he never becomes president. Is it very fetched to say that when he got the information about Clinton, he just purposely did nothing with it?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:56:53)
How do you explain a system this out of control? the most high profile case, maybe in the history of the FBI, at least near the top, that when the sub source is interviewed on two separate occasions and the information is damning to the dossier, it’s exculpatory in nature, it never makes its way up to anybody who actually signed the warrant. What kind of oversight existed for this to happen? How serious were there about checks and balances? Why didn’t they go to Trump and do for Trump what they did for Clinton? We think you may have a problem you need to correct it. It’s pretty obvious to us that Crossfire Hurricane started basically with a conversation in a bar. It took on a life well beyond what the evidence would require. That every time it was supposed to come to end, it kept going. Every time they received some information that made the whole premise of the case unreliable, they ignored it.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:57:57)
When it comes to General Flynn and January the fourth, the professionals wanted to close out the case against General Flynn because there was no there, there. It was the seventh floor that kept it going. They tricked General Flynn into talking without a lawyer, without going to the White House. Sally Yates said they should have defensively briefed the president, if they had a concern with General Flynn. They chose not to. They set him up and acted very dishonorably toward General Flynn. And there’s nothing wrong with General Flynn talking to the ambassador of Russia, when he’s the incoming national security advisor and the conversations are recorded and there’s not one word in there to suggest that General Flynn had been an agent of the Russians at any time. And they’ve basically tried to ruin the man’s reputation. The professionals, January the fourth, took a hard look at General Flynn and found nothing there.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:58:50)
It’s just these people at the top who had an insane desire to keep looking at Trump people when the evidence would suggest they needed to stop., Why did they never stop when it came to Trump, when they should have stopped? Why did they never slow down? Because they had a bias. They really were in the tank when it came to Trump being a Russian agent. No matter what the evidence said, they were going after this guy, because in their mind he wasn’t worthy. Why did they not look at the allegations against candidate Clinton provided by the CiA? It would undercut the narrative. This wasn’t an investigation that was unbiased. This was an investigation that was out of control. The people in charge of it were deeply biased. Their actions prove more than any direct evidence of their bias. Every time they had a moment to reflect, they moved forward.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (02:59:49)
Every time exculpatory information was provided, they ignored it or altered it criminally. It’s no accident, in my view, that all this happened. This is not a series of random mistakes. This was a concerted effort to keep an investigation going that should have stopped, that should have slowed down. And what’s the damage done? They manipulated the FISA court to keep a warrant process going that should’ve stopped months ago. They created a cloud over the FBI about political bias that lingers to this day. Lawyers are being prosecuted for manipulating evidence to keep a warrant application alive. They were told about information from the CIA that maybe this was all part of a political scheme of the opponent. They ignored it. They knew that the Christopher Steele dossier was suspect. They knew that the source was a prior suspected Russian agent, and they kept going and going and going.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (03:00:53)
And they never at one moment gave President Trump a brief that every other candidate should expect. If you think somebody in my office is doing something wrong, I would like for you to tell me so I can fix it. They weren’t trying to protect Trump. They weren’t trying to protect his campaign from foreign influence. They were trying to undercut the president. They were trying to keep an investigation going against a president, a candidate they despised. They had one standard for Trump vastly different than that of candidate Clinton. And my democratic colleagues say, let’s move on. To this day, years later, I’ve yet to find one person who will I take responsibility for manipulating the FISA court. I didn’t know. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have signed it. So who are we to blame? Is it somebody at the bottom of the pyramid who had all this exculpatory information and for some reason didn’t share it?
Senator Lindsay Graham: (03:01:59)
Is that what the system’s come down to, blaming somebody at the bottom? They take responsibility in name only. They don’t seem to appreciate the gravity of damage done to the FBI and to the investigative process when they say no, of course, I wouldn’t have signed that warrant. These are the people Comey and McCabe, not Rosenstein and Yates, are actually in charge of gathering the information. They’re in charge of the investigative part of obtaining a FISA warrant. They gathered the facts and the lawyers at DOJ decide whether or not to pursue a warrant. The people in charge of this investigation were notified by the CIA that this may have been a plot cooked up by the democratic candidate to blame Trump for being involved in Russia when he wasn’t. They completely ignored it. And when they were hit hard by the facts that the dossier was a bunch of garbage, it just magically never made it up to their desk.
Senator Lindsay Graham: (03:03:04)
Everything bad about Trump made it to their desk. Everything exculpatory about the Trump campaign never made it to their desk. How dumb do they think we are? This committee is not through. We’re going to keep digging until we find out how the most high profile investigation of a candidate for president of the United States and eventually a sitting president was handled so poorly and try to let the FISA court know that we take our job seriously. So we will continue this process. People need to be fired. And I think the criminality here needs to be looked at. I find it very difficult to believe that this exculpatory information was not withheld from the court on purpose. We know Clinesmith changed its exculpatory information. We caught him. There’s somebody else out there that probably knows the system rejected, that exculpatory information. They just didn’t ignore it. To be continued. Thank you. Hearing is adjourned.