Now that no charges will be filed, everyone in the media and political world is asking how or why the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation specifically targeting President Donald Trump.
The answer is simple: According to his book “The Threat” and his “60 Minutes” interview, Andrew McCabe as acting FBI director opened the investigation into Trump and urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate him based almost entirely on Trump’s comment to NBC’s Lester Holt that he thought about “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Jim Comey as FBI director in May 2017.
“And, in fact, when I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” Trump said in the interview.
With those confusing words, it sounded as if Trump was saying he fired Comey because the FBI director was pursuing the Russia investigation and Trump wanted to stop it.
But Trump made it clear to aides afterward that he meant quite the opposite — that he was aware that firing Comey could prolong the Russia investigation. What Trump said in the interview immediately after his comment about “this Russia thing” confirms that and exposes McCabe’s rationale for opening the investigation of Trump as a fraud
Trump went on to say to Holt that he supported a full investigation into Russian interference in the election. He said he never tried to pressure Comey into dropping the existing FBI probe of Russian interference in the election — a legitimate investigation that never specifically targeted Trump.
“I want to find out if there was a problem in the election having to do with Russia,” Trump told Holt.
Then, as noted in my book “The Trump White House,” Trump went on to say: “As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly. Maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time [of the Russia probe] because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago. 'Cause all it is, is an excuse, but I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people.”
The media largely ignored Trump’s statement making it clear that he realized that by firing Comey, he was probably prolonging the existing FBI investigation rather than obstructing it. Nor, in all the endless stories about the Russia investigation did the media point out that Trump never actually interfered with the FBI investigation, that he was not a target of an FBI investigation when he fired Comey, and that he did not corruptly cover up, destroy evidence, or make false statements to mislead investigators, all of which happened during Watergate when President Nixon clearly obstructed justice.
In his book McCabe deliberately and dishonestly omitted the rest of what Trump said to Holt about his dismissal of Comey probably lengthening the Russia investigation. In fact, in a second reference to why Trump’s comment in the interview justified an FBI investigation, McCabe said in his book that there was no need to look further into evidence of Trump’s motivations for firing Comey since “… the president already had publicly made the connection between Comey’s firing and ‘this Russia thing …’”
In addition, McCabe parenthetically cited the fact that in a “demeaning and dismissive way,” Trump had called the ongoing FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election—which included the possibility of collusion by the campaign — a “witch hunt,” as if voicing his opinion as president and defending himself had anything to do with a criminal act that could help justify opening an FBI investigation.
Thus, the entire basis for starting the FBI’s obstruction and collusion investigation specifically targeting Trump according to the man who says he started it was outrageously based on a phony predicate that dishonestly and deceitfully ignored the rest of what Trump said in the NBC interview.
The fact that anyone in the FBI would cite criticism of an FBI investigation as a reason to investigate that individual has to be embarrassing to everyone in law enforcement. But more importantly, the fact that McCabe would acknowledge opening an investigation of Trump that could have led to criminal charges based on his comment to Lester Holt and then suppress what the president actually said in that interview is far more shocking than all the claims we see in the media about the FBI’s FISA warrant applications, the so-called dossier, or the alleged wiretapping of the Trump campaign.
I have covered the FBI since J. Edgar Hoover was director. I have written three books on the FBI, one of which led to the dismissal of William Sessions as FBI director over his abuses.
And for my book “The Secrets of the FBI,” Robert Mueller as FBI director gave me unprecedented access to the bureau.
Not since Hoover opened FBI investigations into anyone who criticized the government and blackmailed presidents and members of Congress has the FBI so outrageously abused its authority.
Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game” and “The Secrets of the FBI.”
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