In defense of Comey and the FBI, McCabe defied Trump

The New York Times reports: Andrew G. McCabe has risen so fast at the F.B.I. that he has become a source of both admiration and resentment. So a favorite way to criticize him is to offer one of the most backhanded compliments in the bureau’s lexicon: He’s a great briefer.

Mr. McCabe’s talent for briefing his superiors is regarded by many workaday agents as nothing more than an ability to discuss somebody else’s work. But it is highly valued at F.B.I. headquarters, and in a city where briefings become policy.

“With McCabe, it was always his capacity to understand an issue at great depth that made him stand out,” said James W. McJunkin, who supervised Mr. McCabe years ago in the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism division. Mr. McCabe provided unvarnished information, he said, with cut-to-the-chase precision.

That ability was on display on Thursday in Mr. McCabe’s first public appearance as acting director, less than 48 hours after President Trump fired James B. Comey, Mr. McCabe’s boss.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. McCabe, 49, crisply refuted a pair of Trump administration assertions about Mr. Comey’s firing.

The White House said Mr. Comey had lost the support of his agents. Not so, Mr. McCabe said.

The White House said the F.B.I. regarded the investigation into Russian election interference as a low priority. Mr. McCabe called it “highly significant.”

Mr. McCabe’s standing up to a temperamental president who has repeatedly smacked the bureau like a political piñata won over at least some F.B.I. agents who had viewed Mr. McCabe as overly cautious. Mr. Trump has described the agency as corrupt, repeatedly belittled Mr. Comey and called the F.B.I. investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election and potential collusion with the president’s associates a “hoax.”

Senator Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, said he was surprised by Mr. McCabe’s bluntness. “I wasn’t expecting it,’’ he said in an interview. “It was pleasantly candid. He bucked the system.” [Continue reading…]

When Andrew McCabe flatly contradicted the White House’s claims about James Comey’s standing in the FBI, it might have seemed like he was lining himself up as the next man to get fired, but on the contrary, I suspect he improved his job security.

Trump has already turned the agency into his enemy. If McCabe now gets elbowed out, Trump will become even more vulnerable. The more pressure team Trump applies, the more resistance they will meet.

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