FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified behind closed doors for nearly eight hours Tuesday on Capitol Hill, amid calls for his firing over allegations of conflicts of interest and anti-Trump political prejudice at the law enforcement bureau.
McCabe's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, which had been rescheduled from last week, was the latest development in a controversy swirling around text messages exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
McCabe was believed to be the "Andy" to whom Strzok and Page referred in their messages.
“I’ll be a little bit surprised if (McCabe is) still an employee of the FBI this time next week,” U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a member of the House panel, told Fox News several days ago.
Gowdy and other committee members were tight-lipped on the details of McCabe’s testimony on Tuesday, and most avoided speaking with reporters. But the committee’s ranking member,U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said McCabe “has been a professional FBI agent” and that he does not understand “the calls of some to fire him.”
Strzok was dismissed from Mueller’s Russia probe after being linked to a number of anti-Trump messages, including those calling Trump a “menace” and a “loathsome human.” But one particular text sent by the agent caused great concern and appeared to implicate McCabe.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote Aug. 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said last week that the text was “very troubling” because it implied the agents had “a plan to take action to make sure that Donald Trump does not get elected president of the United States at the highest levels of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Lawmakers may have also questioned McCabe on demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie Ohr. The official had undisclosed meetings with Fusion GPS – the company that produced the infamous anti-Trump dossier containing salacious allegations about then-candidate Trump. Nellie Ohr worked at Fusion GPS on Trump-related issues.
Republican members of the committee were also expected to press McCabe on issues of conflict of interest and whether he should have recused himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation. McCabe’s wife in 2015 ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia and received money from donors linked to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
McCabe was named the agency’s deputy director in January 2016 by then-FBI Director James Comey. He briefly served as acting director of the FBI after Comey was fired by Trump in May.