Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that James Comey retained “broad support” within the bureau, directly contradicting the White House’s claim that Comey had lost the loyalty of his agents.
“I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to his day,” McCabe testified, calling it the “greatest privilege and honor of his professional life to work with Comey. He continued: “We are a large organization … we have a diversity of opinions about many things. But I can confidently tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees, enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.”
McCabe’s revelation comes just two days after President Trump fired Comey for reasons that are continuously changing, though the rank and file losing “confidence in the director” was among the reasons given.
Comey had originally been scheduled to testify Thursday, which — until the director’s bombshell ouster — was intended as a hearing to update lawmakers about pressing national-security threats. Instead, Comey’s fate and the Russia investigation overshadowed discussions about North Korea and homegrown extremism.
McCabe undermined another of the Trump’s constant claims — that the Russia investigation is just a sideshow.
The investigation is ”highly significant,” McCabe told lawmakers.
Maine senator Angus King pressed McCabe. “So you would not characterize it as one of the smallest things you’re engaged in?”
“I would not,” McCabe replied, though he later would not comment on Trump’s repeated assertion that Comey had assured him “three times” that the president himself was not under investigation.
And, McCabe testified, Comey’s departure has not — and would not —influence or disrupt the course of that highly significant investigation. “The work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstances, any decisions,” he said. “There has been no effort to impede our investigation, to date.”
But McCabe promised he would inform lawmakers immediately if the White House attempted to interfere. He also said he believed the investigation was “adequately sourced,” in response to a question about reports that Comey had asked the Justice Department for more resources before his firing.
“Quite simply put,” McCabe testified during the hearing, echoing the sentiments in Comey’s own letter to the department, “you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution.”