McCabe Says Durham Investigation Was 'Never Legitimate,' Claims Report Reveals 'Nothing New'

Andrew McCabe appears on Anderson Cooper 360, May 15, 2023.

After the Durham report was released Monday afternoon, one player everyone was waiting to hear from was former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, who’s now a CNN contributor. McCabe reacted to the report’s findings (which he admitted that he hadn’t fully read) on Anderson Cooper’s show Monday night and railed against John Durham, claiming that Durham’s investigation was never legitimate, that the only thing the FBI did wrong had to do with the Carter Page FISA application (which he called regrettable) and, incredibly, still claims that there was collusion.


Cooper began the interview by mentioning that McCabe’s name comes up 58 times in the report and asking for McCabe’s thoughts on its findings. McCabe said:

Yeah, I vehemently disagree with Mr. Durham’s characterizations of what we did in the report. And it’s very simple. He betrays a deep misunderstanding of not only what we knew at the time, but how we make these decisions. I think it’s incredibly important for people to understand what we were seeing then, and it was basically this, Anderson.

We’d known and — we’ve known for over a year that the Russians had been attacking us in cyberspace, specifically at political institutions and government institutions. We knew in the beginning of 2016 that they had turned those attacks on the Democratic National Committee and that they had stolen and exfiltrated a large amount of information from the DNC, and we knew that they then went on to use that information, to weaponize it, to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign by releasing it on the eve of her convention.

Then in July, at the end of July, we learned that months earlier, before that information was released, a member of the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, told a representative of a friendly foreign government, a trusted friendly foreign government, that they had been offered exactly that assistance by the Russians. So we knew what the Russians took, we knew how the Russians used it, and then we learned that the Russians offered to do exactly what they had done, before they did it, to the Trump campaign.

So with that information — not unverified intelligence, actual information — we opened a full investigation. And everyone who has looked at what we did, other than John Durham, determined that that decision was absolutely appropriate.


As to the allegation that the FBI used “raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence,” McCabe hit back:

I can only assume to what he’s referring to there are the comments that Papadopoulos made to this trusted representative of a foreign government. That information does not, in my estimation, qualify as unverified intelligence. That is a direct report from a trusted, longtime ally of the United States, and it overlays very clearly with raw information that we knew. Not unverified intelligence; things that we knew the Russians were doing and were continuing to do.

About Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, was McCabe aware of their feelings toward Trump, and should Strzok and Page have been involved in the investigation? McCabe said:

I was not aware of their comments, their private conversations via text message between each other about their thoughts about Donald Trump and their thoughts about Hillary Clinton and the election writ large. Had I known about that, no, they wouldn’t have been involved in the investigation, but nobody knew about that at the time.

And I think it’s important to point out that in the IG’s investigation, the DOJ Inspector General, they looked very deeply at all of those messages and determined that neither Pete Strzok or Lisa Page was ever in a position to significantly influence the decisions that were made by people like myself and Director James Comey during the course of this investigation.

So, yeah, those comments were objectionable and they were unfortunate, and they subjected the organization to immense scrutiny, but ultimately were not responsible for the investigative decisions that were made.


Cooper then asked about a finding that the FBI handled this investigation into Trump’s campaign differently than an investigation into allegations of potential foreign interference in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. McCabe answered:

Yeah, it’s a ridiculous claim. I think, to the best of my understanding, he is referring to a piece of intelligence that was received at the highest levels of the FBI in 2016 about some comments or communications allegedly made by people associated with the Clinton campaign that they were going to essentially manufacture some sort of narrative that Trump had ties to the Russians in order to hurt his campaign.

Look. The fact is, we knew what the Russians were doing and had done in an effort to hurt Donald Trump, and if we had had any information, any intelligence or information that indicated that the Clinton campaign was colluding with the Russians, we would have investigated that as well. But that information doesn’t exist, and to my knowledge it was not happening.

What you heard in that intelligence that was declassified by John Ratcliffe was a campaign strategy. Maybe an underhanded, unethical strategy, I don’t know. That’s for others to decide. But that is not a violation of federal criminal law or the creation of a threat to national security.

Next, Cooper asked McCabe if he was surprised that there were no new recommendations that the DOJ change procedures. McCabe replied:

I’m not surprised at all, because John Durham has failed to come up with anything new. Most of the report, the parts that I’ve been able to read in the last few hours, are a regurgitation of findings that were made by the Inspector General. They’re an attempt to justify two failed prosecutions that he brought against Igor Danchenko and Michael Sussman. There is nothing new here.

And what he does present in the report, though, I will give him this. He’s entirely consistent with the pre-judging of this investigation that he communicated, you know, a month or so into starting it.

We knew from the very beginning exactly what John Durham was going to conclude, and that’s what we saw today. We knew from the very beginning this was never a legitimate investigation; this was a political errand to exact some sort of retribution on Donald Trump’s perceived enemies in the FBI. That’s what Mr. Durham’s done.


So, does McCabe stand by his original investigation?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Listen, the mistakes with the Carter Page FISA were regrettable, should never have happened, and had I known about those mistakes in the packages I never would have signed those applications. And shame on us for not knowing. But that’s all business that the IG presented to America in what, 2019 — 2019, I think.

There is absolutely nothing new in this report, and I stand by the investigative decisions that we made to open the investigation first on the Trump campaign and the possibility that the Russians were trying to influence it, and then later on Donald Trump himself.

And what did we find out from Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation? The Russians did, in fact, influence the campaign. They wanted to, they tried repeated times, they had many, many contacts with the Trump campaign, and several of those people were indicted. So I guess what we were worried about all along, actually happened.

Simply stunning. Cooper had nothing to say after that; one could hope that he, too, was stunned at McCabe’s denials and gaslighting.

Watch the entire interview below.


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