The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, promised lawmakers Thursday that he would inform them if the bureau’s investigation into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia faces any political interference from the White House.
McCabe, a veteran FBI officer who took over at the bureau in an acting capacity after President Donald Trump’s stunning decision Tuesday to fire James B. Comey, also said the FBI’s work continues “despite any changes in circumstance.” He added that there has been “no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
McCabe’s remarks came during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual open hearing on global threats. Testifying alongside McCabe were the directors of the nation’s top intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats also made his first appearance since being sworn in as the director of national intelligence.
But all eyes were on McCabe, who was making his first appearance before the committee less than 48 hours after stepping into the acting director’s shoes.
In firing Comey, the White House pointed to the former director’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as secretary of state. But the timing of Trump’s decision — amid an FBI investigation into possible Trump-Russia ties — touched off allegations of political meddling in the bureau’s probe.
The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, asked McCabe whether he would promise to inform the panel if the FBI faces any political interference in its Russia investigation.
“I absolutely do,” McCabe replied.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked whether Comey’s dismissal had negatively impacted the FBI’s investigations. McCabe assured the committee members that it had not.
“As you know senator, the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions,” McCabe said. “So there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date. You cannot stop the men and women in the FBI from doing the right thing.”
Despite the focus on McCabe, it’s unclear how long he will stay on as acting deputy. The White House is reportedly considering a number of individuals to step in as interim director while the search for a permanent director proceeds.