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McCabe says he told Congress 'Gang of 8' leaders about FBI probe into Trump, and they had no objection.

NBC News logo NBC News 2/19/2019 Allan Smith

Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday that he briefed congressional leaders about the counterintelligence investigation he had opened into President Donald Trump and that "no one objected."

"That's the important part here," McCabe told Savannah Guthrie, who had asked if he had informed the "Gang of 8" bipartisan group of leaders on the Hill. "No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts."

The purpose of the briefing in 2017 was to let the congressional leadership, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, then-House Speaker Paul Ryan and their Democratic counterparts, know what the FBI was doing in the probe into Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, McCabe said.

"Opening a case of this nature (is) not something that an FBI director, not something that an acting FBI director would do by yourself, right?" McCabe said on "Today." "This was a recommendation that came to me from my team. I reviewed it with our lawyers. I discussed it at length with the deputy attorney general, and I told Congress what we had done."

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017 after senior Justice Department officials concluded that he had mishandled the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. The move temporarily made McCabe the bureau's acting director.

In a televised interview days later, Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt that he’d been planning to fire Comey even before he received Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's recommendation to do so because "of this Russia thing with Trump."

In his "Today" interview, McCabe also said Trump's repeated public blasting of him has been "horrific" for him and his family.

"I can't tell you how horrific it's been to have to endure the threats, the taunts, the bullying of the president of the United States in such a public way," McCabe said. "I try not to take it personally, but it's very hard. It's been incredibly tough on my family."

The president has repeatedly attacked McCabe on Twitter after McCabe's interview with CBS's "60 Minutes." Trump called McCabe "a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax — a puppet for Leakin' James Comey."

Trump continued to tweet about McCabe throughout the holiday weekend.

"Remember this, Andrew McCabe didn’t go to the bathroom without the approval of Leakin’ James Comey!" he posted Monday night.

Speaking with NBC about Trump's attacks on him, McCabe said, "I don't think really anybody takes those tweets by the president very seriously." He added that Trump has been "lying" about the former top FBI official and his family for years.

In that CBS interview, which aired in full on Sunday, McCabe said he ordered obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations into Trump after he fired Comey and said Rosenstein had discussed the possibility of removing Trump through the 25th Amendment in addition to wearing a wire during a future conversation with the president.

In a statement Thursday, the Justice Department disputed McCabe's assertions in the interview, calling his recollections "inaccurate and factually incorrect."

McCabe disputed the DOJ pushback in his Tuesday interview with NBC.

McCabe was ousted from the bureau last March following Comey's firing in May 2017. McCabe was fired just prior to a planned retirement following a Justice Department inspector general's report that said he misled investigators regarding a leak about the FBI's investigation of the Clinton Foundation, which he denies. The inspector general referred its findings to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia last year for possible prosecution, and prosecutors reportedly have convened a grand jury on the matter.

McCabe told CBS and NBC that he believed he was ousted because he further probed Trump. "I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States," McCabe told NBC.

He added that the inspector general's report "was not like anything I have ever read before."

"An investigative report includes all of the evidence," he continued. "It includes all of the information, not just those facts that support the conclusion that you'd like to draw. So I have big problems with that report. I disagree with the conclusions they drew, and that is something that I'll be raising in a civil lawsuit that I'll be bringing against the Department of Justice."

McCabe's book, "The Threat," is out on Tuesday.


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