Acting FBI director says he will not tolerate White House interference of Russia probe
Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe promised senators Thursday that he would not be informing the White House how an investigation into possible Russian meddling in the election was proceeding.
McCabe appeared before a Senate panel, speaking publicly for the first time since President Donald Trump fired Director James Comey this week.
“You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing,” McCabe said.
McCabe said there has been “no effort to impede our investigation” and that he would report any attempts at interference of the investigation.
Trump’s firing of Comey on Tuesday has led Democrats and others to raise concerns about the future of the investigation.
McCabe answered questions from the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, who said he thought Comey’s dismissal was directly related to the Russia investigation.
Days before he was fired, Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation, U.S. officials have said, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency.
It was unclear whether word of the Comey request to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made it to the president. But the revelation intensified the pressure on the White House from both political parties to explain the motives behind Comey’s stunning ouster.
Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon to fire a law enforcement official overseeing an investigation with ties to the White House.
Democrats quickly accused Trump of using Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as a pretext and called for a special prosecutor into the Russia probe. Republican leaders brushed off the idea as unnecessary.
Defending the firing, White House officials said Trump’s confidence in Comey had been eroding for months. They suggested Trump was persuaded to take the step by Justice Department officials and a scathing memo, written by Rosenstein, criticizing the director’s role in the Clinton investigation.
“Frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. The day before, officials pointed to new complaints to the Justice Department about Comey as the impetus.
McCabe refuted that to the Senate panel.
Trump’s action left the fate of the Russia probe deeply uncertain. The investigation has shadowed Trump from the outset of his presidency, though he’s denied any ties to Russia or knowledge of campaign coordination with Moscow.
Trump, in a letter to Comey dated Tuesday, contended that the director had told him “three times” that he was not personally under investigation. The White House refused Wednesday to provide any detail.
Former FBI agents said such a statement by the director would be all but unthinkable. McCabe told senators he could not comment on conversations between Comey and the president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.