Andrew McCabe, the disgraced former acting FBI director, conceded in his new book that James Comey’s infamous decision to hold a press conference to announce no charges against Hillary Clinton in her email case worked to “erode the credibility of the FBI.”
Perhaps unwittingly lending weight to some of President Trump’s own arguments for ultimately firing Comey, McCabe blasted Comey’s unprecedented press conference as possibly doing “long-term damage” to the FBI.
On July 5, 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, Comey held a notorious press conference during which he bypassed Justice Department tradition by unilaterally declaring that “no charges are appropriate” in the case of Clinton’s private email server. It is not the role of the FBI to make such pronouncements.
In his anti-Trump book, titled, “The Threat: How the F.B.I. Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” McCabe related his initial thoughts when Comey first broached the idea of the press conference:
Oh, my God, I thought. We don’t do that. That is not what we do. I remember looking at Comey and just kind of shaking my head, and saying, Ooofff, I don’t know, that seems like really putting us out there. That’s really abandoning tradition and practice, and could set a bad precedent. I don’t know that there’s a specific policy about that, but that’s not who we are most of the time.
McCabe criticizes himself for not speaking out against Comey’s press conference suggestion and blasts Comey’s actions as eroding public trust in the FBI:
I look back now and see how far the FBI was stretching, how completely we were leveraging our own credibility. Had I imagined how polarized and vicious the reaction to Comey’s statement would be, had I foreseen how his statement would erode the credibility of the FBI, and specifically that of the FBI director, in a way that could do long-term damage to the institution — I want to believe I would have assessed our chances for success very differently. Made different arguments. Listened differently.
Had I thought this whole thing through more skeptically, had I been more resistant to Comey’s idea that he could make this statement in a way that connected with people both inside and outside the organization, had I made a more realistic appraisal of how many of those people would not have accepted anything short of seeing Hillary Clinton in handcuffs being dragged off to the Metropolitan Detention Center, then perhaps I would have said to Comey, Don’t do it. Let’s be the normal Bob Mueller, say-nothing FBI of old.
McCabe, meanwhile, is in hot water over his actions relating to Trump’s presidency.
Last April, the Justice Department inspector-general (IG) referred McCabe to Washington’s top federal prosecutor after the IG’s report found that McCabe had lied to investigators or Comey four times, including on three occasions when McCabe was under oath.
McCabe has also faced controversy over a much-debated text message from FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who helped lead the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server. According to the four-page Republican House Intelligence Committee memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Strzok message reportedly referred to “a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ‘insurance’ policy against President Trump’s election.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.