Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has warned that classified intelligence from bureau’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia could contain information that would “risk casting the president in a very negative light”.
Mr McCabe has been at the centre of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, in which a Republican-controlled panel is reviewing the FBI’s recision to initiate the investigation.
He testified before the panel on Tuesday and told lawmakers that officials had a “duty” to carry out the investigation due to the information they had collected. Mr McCabe personally approved the decision to investigate Mr Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
In an interview with CNN on Friday night, Mr McCabe was asked what the risks were if more information from the Russia investigation was to be declassified.
CNN anchor Andrew Cuomo said Mr Trump was told by Devin Nunes, a close ally of the president’s and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, that if more previously unreleased information comes out, the more it will appear that the president was “framed”.
“From your knowledge, is there anything that could come out that people would look at and say, ‘wow, I can’t believe they ever included the president in this analysis, he and his people clearly did nothing’?” asked Mr Cuomo.
Mr McCabe replied: “There is some very, very serious, very specific, undeniable intelligence that has not come out, that if it were released, would risk compromising our access to that sort of information in the future.
“I think it would also risk casting the president in a very negative light – so, would he have a motivation to release those things? It’s almost incomprehensible to me that he would want that information out, I don’t see how he spins it into his advantage, because quite frankly, I don’t believe it’s flattering.
Asked if Mr McCabe thought there was more “bad stuff” about Mr Trump that wasn’t already publicly known, he replied: “There is always more intelligence, there is a lot more in the intelligence community assessment than what is ever released for public consumption.
“The original version of that report was classified at the absolute highest level I have ever seen. We’re talking about top secret, compartmentalised code word stuff, and it would be tragic to American intelligence collection for those sources to be put at risk.”
The FBI has been accused by the Senate Judiciary Committee of going “rogue” with the Russia investigation, with one senator describing it as the “biggest scandal in the history of the FBI” on Tuesday.
Mr Trump has repeatedly railed against the FBI for the investigation and maintained there was “no collusion” between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
In 2019, after a report by former FBI director Robert Mueller concluded that Mr Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election – but did not clear him of obstruction of justice – Mr Trump tweeted: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
During the hearing on Tuesday, Mr McCabe pointed out that Mr Trump fired then-director James B Comey in 2017 after Mr Comey refused to close an investigation into the president’s national security at the time, or say publicly that Mr Trump himself was not under investigation.
Mr McCabe said: “It became pretty clear to us that he did not want us to continue investigating what the Russians had done.
“We had many reasons at that point to believe that the president might himself pose a danger to national security and that he might have engaged in obstruction of justice, if the firing of the director and those other things were geared towards elimination or stopping our investigation of Russian activity.”