Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe blasted calls from Republicans to investigate the origins of the Mueller probe on CNN Tuesday, saying there is no reason to doubt the reasons listen in his book and in former FBI Director James Comey's book, which both "touched on the subject."
"The circumstances behind the opening of the Russia case are not a mystery," McCabe said. "I have testified under oath about them as early as December of 2017. Jim Comey has made comments about them publicly. I have. We've both written books that touched on the issues."
"So the circumstances behind the case are widely known. They were entirely validated by the Special Counsel investigation. We now know that Russia did try to attack our elections, and that the President did engage in numerous acts of potentially obstructive conduct. So it raises that question of what are we doing here?" he asked.
BALDWIN: Here's my first question to you. You were one of the top officials who made sure the Russia investigation was opened. You were at the top levels. They're investigating you and your colleagues. Do you find Bill Barr's travels problematic? And in your decades with the agency, have you ever heard of anything like this?
MCCABE: No, no, I sure haven't heard of anything like this. There's two primary questions that I think you have to ask here. The first is, why is he doing this at all? The circumstances behind the opening of the Russia case are not a mystery.
I have testified under oath about them as early as December of 2017. Jim Comey has made comments about them publicly. I have. We've both written books that touched on the issues. So the circumstances behind the case are widely known. They were entirely validated by the Special Counsel investigation. We now know that Russia did try to attack our elections, and that the President did engage in numerous acts of potentially obstructive conduct. So it raises that question of what are we doing here?
The second question is not the propriety of the Attorney General talking to foreign colleagues because that happens all the time. But these are foreign colleagues who are very, very familiar with working with U.S. investigators and prosecutors.
We cooperate with those folks and have on investigations and prosecutions for many, many years. So the question becomes, why does the Attorney General feel it's necessary to personally interact with those folks, and make this introduction to Prosecutor Durham? And what is taking place in those conversations? What sort of assistance or objectives is he actually advocating for here?
BALDWIN: To add to your two examples, something that we are wondering also is, is Bill Barr doing this for the sole purpose of pursuing Trump's conspiracies? Because it's just worth reminding everyone, that this is the guy who wrote that, you know, unsolicited memo to the D.O.J. just last year, saying that he thought the Mueller investigation was, quote, "fatally misconceived." And that was before he was nominated for the job.
MCCABE: You know, that's a great question, Brooke. It's not one we know the answer to, but I think it is undeniable that the Attorney General's personal involvement in this investigation, his prioritization of it, which is indicated by his own travel, is entirely consistent with the President's obsession of undermining the root cause and the impact of the Russia investigation.
So we don't -- we can't say right now exactly why the Attorney General is doing what he is doing. But we do know that what he is doing is entirely consistent with the President's goals.
BALDWIN: And you think about how many times the President brought up the AG and that phone conversation with Zelensky, you know, Barr has not recused himself at this point. We know how well that went or not with Jeff Sessions.
Andy, what would have to happen for him to do so? And who would make him?
MCCABE: Well, there's nobody that can make the Attorney General recuse himself from any matter. That is a decision that's entirely up to him. He usually would make a decision like that based upon his consulting with professional -- ethics professionals within the Department of Justice.
But a very valid question there, Brooke to think, has he even considered doing so? Has he requested that sort of guidance from the ethics professionals in the department? And if so, what sort of advice has he been given? There is no question at least in terms of the whistleblower complaint
that the Attorney General is right-square in the middle of that complaint as someone who would be certainly a relevant witness, and someone whose testimony would be essential to getting to the bottom of those claims.
BALDWIN: And then I pointed this out off the top, you know, in this rare in public response, the Office of Inspector General, the I.C.I.G., again, a Trump appointing debunked multiple conspiracy theories being spread by this President and his allies and the right- wing media and when we use this word unprecedented, it feels like on a daily basis.
BALDWIN: But tell us, Andy, I mean, seriously, how extraordinary is this?
MCCABE: It is. I'm running out of words here as well, Brooke. It is truly extraordinary. The opinion or the statement that he released yesterday is remarkable for its candor; and the legal analysis to my estimation is bulletproof.
And I would say, it is another act of courage by this Intelligence Community Inspector General who is a Trump appointee, and who no doubt knows that the things that he is saying, the positions he is taking, are probably being looked upon very negatively by the President and his supporters in the administration.
But you know, when you go through that statement, he makes it absolutely clear that it is not necessary for the complainant to come forward with a complaint based only on first person information, but that the complainant in this case, indicated that they had both firsthand information and secondhand information.
And then he says in a very kind of deft way that his own analysis is preliminary review of the credibility of the complaint involved talking to people with firsthand knowledge.
So what that tells us, Brooke, is that the I.C. I.G. is kind of telegraphing here that there are witnesses that he spoke to with firsthand knowledge who confirmed the allegations in this complaint, and that is a -- that's a very substantial revelation.
BALDWIN: Yes. Your point about being bulletproof. Great insight, Andy McCabe.