“This hearing is part of an ongoing Republican attempt to divert attention,” the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler, (D-NY) insists. Hillary Clinton supporting Democrats are completely terrified by what FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers in a set of closed hearings on the hill this week. Republican Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) refutes Nadler’s whining as an attempt to shift the focus away from the substance. “That’s definitely not right,” Goodlatte exclaims. “This investigation was announced two months ago and this is the first interview.”
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was subjected to third-degree interrogations, not just once but twice, this week as serious questions about the credibility of Robert Mueller’s “investigation” swirl around Washington. The Special Counsel’s deep dive into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russian officials is looking more and more like a witch-hunt every day.
The House Intelligence Committee was the first to put McCabe under hot lights, for a full day of grilling on Tuesday about the Fusion GPS Steele dossier. When Republican lawmakers tasked with investigating Hillary’s emails heard what he had to say, McCabe was immediately summoned back to the stand for even more answers. That has Nadler squawking too. “This hearing occurred with very little prior notice, with weeks before the relevant documents are obtained. We’re expecting the relevant documents and suddenly we’re told we have an emergency hearing.”
Even though both hearings were supposed to remain hush-hush, there is a lot of “you didn’t hear this from me but…” going on in local D.C. watering holes. With Democrats scrambling to control the damage, a floodgate of leaks has burst open.
The mood, according to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, (D-IL) was “tense,” as McCabe “faced intense questioning from Republicans about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.” McCabe’s eight hours in the spotlight on Thursday was the first interrogation related to FBI Director James Comey’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server. The joint investigation by the two House committees started earlier this year.
Specifically, lawmakers at Thursday’s deposition wanted answers about “internal emails they believe showed Comey mishandled the investigation.” Comey cleared the former Secretary of State of all wrongdoing just before the election, despite admitting the FBI found “evidence of potential violations,” claiming, “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
At the time, he swore the basis for the decision was “primarily because investigators didn’t determine that Clinton intentionally schemed to break federal law.” Just this month we learned that obviously pro-Clinton investigator Peter Strzok downgraded the official report conclusion, that Hillary committed the crime of “gross negligence,” down to harmless “carelessness.”
On the way out of the hearing, two Republicans told the media that nothing McCabe said changed their mind. They are still convinced Hillary got special kid-glove treatment by the FBI. “Everything that I’ve heard reinforces what I believed before,” maintains Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
The main topic on Tuesday was the Christopher Steele dossier which Director Comey himself called “a compendium of salacious and unverified allegations,” in sworn testimony last March. For most of this year, a committee headed by Devon Nunes has been trying to find out if then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch used the dossier as grounds for a foreign surveillance warrant against Carter Page while he was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
The dossier alleges very specific things. It claims “Russians linked to Vladimir Putin” offered Carter Page” money in exchange for persuading Trump to end U.S. sanctions on Russia.” It also says, “Page met with Igor Sechin, the Putin-connected head of Rosneft, Russia’s giant, state-owned oil company, and also with Igor Divyekin, a top official in the Putin government.” It continues, “Sechin offered to pay Page or other Trump associates tens of millions of dollars to end the sanctions.”
On Thursday, Republican lawmakers demanded to know how much weight was given to the report and most importantly, how much of it is really true?
When asked if the dossier was credible enough to use as the basis for opening an investigation, McCabe assured the committee it was. When pressed to “identify a substantive allegation that has been corroborated,” McCabe replied the FBI “worked hard to verify the dossier.” They even sent a man to London. The committee still wanted to know if any of it was true.
The only thing out of the whole file that McCabe could verify as confirmed was that, “Carter Page visited Moscow in July 2016.” They could have verified that by reading the paper, as one member of the committee pointed out. “Page’s Moscow trip was reported in the press at the time it happened.” When asked if there was any more McCabe could confirm, all he could answer was “I don’t know how to answer that question.”
Both sides say they expect this is the first in a series of hearings involving FBI witnesses.