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Andrew McCabe tells Stephen Colbert that Trump-Russia is "more suspicious every day"

Andrew McCabe, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

In an interview that’s sure to prolong Donald Trump’s current, white-knuckled, abusive tweet-storm against the latest government figure to describe just how unprecedentedly shady his administration is, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe continued the press tour for his book, The Threat: How The FBI Protects America In The Age Of Terror And Trump, with an eventful stop on The Late Show. Host Stephen Colbert is always sharpest when he gets to question someone with inside knowledge of the spiraling, democracy-shredding hurricane that is the Trump administration, and he wasted no time in pinning down McCabe on some of the more alarming incidents in his book. You know, like how McCabe and others in the FBI felt that there was enough evidence both of the president being a “threat to the national security of the United States,” and that said president was actively working to undermine and obstruct any investigation into that fact, to warrant an investigation. “If you think that the President of the United States may have fired the director of the FBI for the purpose of interfering with or stopping our investigation into Russian malign influence in the campaign,” laid out McCabe, “The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Why?’”

Colbert, employing both his interviewing and deadpan comic delivery skills, was then led to ask, “What makes you think that the president fired Comey because of the Russia investigation other than the fact that he said that out loud?” “That’s called a lead in the business,” continued Colbert, and McCabe agreed, telling the host that, at least partly in response to James Comey’s firing, the FBI instituted a “backup plan” in order to make sure that the Russia investigation could proceed should Trump do anything so blatantly corrupt and incriminating as to then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (Odds not available at press time.) Colbert—unsuccessfully attempting to ferret out any cool spy-type methods used in such extraordinary cases—seemingly derived some consolation from McCabe’s measured, “extra from Dragnet”-dry explanation, “What we needed to do is to be able to take our cases back and resume our investigations.”


Less reassuring were the buttoned-down McCabe’s use of phrases like “unbelievable,” “chaos and frenzy,” and “frenzied and fraught” to describe the discussions in which the FBI were confronted with having to spitball ideas of how to deal with the very real possibility that the president is colluding with a foreign power against the nation. “I can’t even describe how head-spinning this was,” said McCabe of the fact that high-ranking FBI and DOJ officials had to consider, among other things, invoking the 25th Amendment in order to keep POTUS from working against the country on behalf of another. “We don’t train at Quantico for, ‘Here’s what to do when you think you need to investigate the President of the United States,’” explained McCabe. (It’s likely going to join the FBI training curriculum now, one imagines.) He went on to dismiss Trump apologist and Republican quisling Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) recent sputtering about such discussions constituting a “coup,” noting that contemplating an extraordinary course of action in accordance with the Constitution is exactly the opposite of that.

As to whether McCane has seen anything in the two years since concerns about Donald Trump prompted an investigation that would mitigate those suspicions, McCabe answered flatly, “No.” (Asking, “Did I answer too fast?” as a follow-up.) Colbert also asked if McCabe knows things that the public does not that “would surprise us,” to which McCabe again answered succinctly, “Sure.” For while McCabe conceded he did, according to the terms of his security clearances, submit his book to the FBI for vetting as to national security, he was very clear that the reporting about the Mueller investigation has—in contradiction to President “Fake News’” incessant attacks—been pretty spot-on. Referring to the “incredible number of people” in the administration and campaign who first lied about contacts with Russia and then lied some more to try to cover those contacts up, McCabe told Colbert, “It all seems to get more suspicious every day.”

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.