FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe appeared to testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. He testified for some seven hours. McCabe is of course now best known as the “Andy” featured in the text message sent by FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Following up on a discussion with Page in “Andy’s office,” Strzok referred in an August 2016 message to an “insurance policy” against the remote possibility of Trump’s election.
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake gave Strzok’s text message a 1950’s style New Critical reading for the Washington Post here. Blake’s reading is unintentionally funny.
McCabe was foreclosed from testifying about matters within the ambit of the special counsel investigation, which is more or less unbounded. Will we ever get to the bottom of the FBI’s involvement with the Steele dossier and the role of the dossier in its surveillance of individuals connected with the Trump campaign? Senior officials in the FBI appear to want to keep the story bottled up.
McCabe reportedly fielded questions on the Steele dossier. According to “sources close to the committee,” James Rosen and Jake Gibson offer this for FOX News:
Sources close to the investigation say that McCabe was a “friendly witness” to the Democrats in the room, who are said to have pressed the deputy director, without success, to help them build a case against President Trump for obstruction of justice in the Russia-collusion probe. “If he could have, he would have,” said one participant in the questioning.
Investigators say McCabe recounted to the panel how hard the FBI had worked to verify the contents of the anti-Trump “dossier” and stood by its credibility. But when pressed to identify what in the salacious document the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow.
The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.
The Steele dossier represents genuine collusion by the Clinton campaign with the friends of Vladimir Putin. Does McCabe believe that the friends of Vladimir Putin fed reliable information on Trump to the Clinton campaign via Steele? McCabe apparently believes so, but can’t remember when he learned that the Steele dossier derived from the Clinton campaign.
The FBI is hiding basic information regarding its campaign related activities from congressional oversight. See, for example, Kim Strassel’s column “Secrets the FBI shouldn’t keep” (behind the Journal’s paywall). It seems to me reasonable to draw adverse inferences from McCabe’s convenient struggle with memory loss (assuming the accuracy of the FOX News report) and to doubt that we’ll ever get to the bottom of the story here.