There was both good news and bad news for the FBI this week. The bad news came from former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The good news is that the Senate confirmed William P. Barr as attorney general.
Andrew McCabe’s book “The Threat” — and his “60 minutes” TV interview promoting it — has sadly embarrassed the bureau and those of us who love the institution.
McCabe makes a very good — even impressive — appearance on TV. He may garner some sympathy from the public. His desire to defend himself and get “his side” of the story out there is understandable. However, he took many cheap shots at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This is not at all becoming for a former acting director of the FBI. Sessions is a gentleman, and he has already suffered indignity at the hands of President Trump.
McCabe explained that shortly after he became the bureau’s acting director in May 2017, Jim Comey was fired, and McCabe ordered an investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice. He also ordered the FBI to investigate the president to determine if he had been working with the Russians against American interests.
Other than the firing itself, McCabe offered no reason for initiating either investigation. Having a predicate for investigations was FBI procedure in the past, and it is required by Justice Department guidelines. In his 60 Minutes interview, McCabe explained that he structured the investigation to ensure that it would continue even if he was forced out. What does that tell us about those in the chain of command behind McCabe?
So much of what McCabe has said does not make sense, and it is truly embarrassing. He described having conversations with Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein concerning Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. But it was Rosenstein who wrote the detailed memo setting forth the reasons for Comey’s firing. McCabe’s concern that he would be fired after Comey is also a bit misplaced as he was one of only four bureau executives Trump interviewed for the director’s job.
It’s fortunate we now have Attorney General Bill Barr to clean up the mess.
Barr understands the bureau thanks to the fact that he already served as attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. He understands Justice Department guidelines, because he oversaw an FBI that once was guided by them.
If McCabe had used those guidelines, he would never have directed an investigation of the president for “working against American interests” or for firing Comey. The idea that the president could be involved obstruction of justice for firing a subordinate was fully debunked in a June 8, 2018 memo that Barr prepared for Rosenstein. According to Barr’s analysis, the president was exercising decision making authority “invested in him by the Constitution.”
Barr saw how the FBI operated in a pre-Sept. 11 world. It was a law enforcement agency that operated according to legal guidelines. The Comey-McCabe clique has caused a lot of embarrassment, but now there is hope for those of us who love and value the bureau and for all Americans who want to see this important institution’s reputation restored.
Tom Baker (@BakeAssociates) served as an FBI special agent for 33 years. He served as the legal attaché at the American Embassy in Canberra, Australia, and in Paris, France.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.