Hours after the Department of Justice released the long-awaited report from Special Council John Durham into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, finding the FBI had no evidence and no reason to open the investigation to begin with, former FBI deputy director-turned-CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe finally crawled out from his hidey-hole Monday night to address the story. Of course, AC360 host Anderson Cooper gave him the floor to freely lash out at Durham and continue to lie about the investigation.
Going to McCabe only a couple minutes into his timeslot, Cooper noted that McCabe’s “name comes up 58 times in the Durham report” and tried to spin the fact that the Durham report found “the FBI never had evidence of collusion.” He asserted “[t]hat's not a legal term” when everyone understood that to be shorthand for Donald Trump being a Russian asset.
“What's your response?” Cooper simply teed up McCabe to defend himself, with little citation from the report to press his guest on. At no point did Cooper admit that McCabe was fired for lying to federal investigators about his leaking to the press regarding the Hillary Clinton-e-mail probe.
Despite Durham’s career as a prosecutor and investigator, McCabe suggested he was an amateur. He asserted the report “betrays” Durham’s “deep misunderstanding of not only what we knew at the time, but how we make these decisions.”
McCabe was then allowed to ramble on defending the investigation in broad vague terms without any pushback from Cooper (click “expand”):
I think it's incredibly important for people to understand what we were seeing then and it was basically this, Anderson: We had known and we'd 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 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.
Eventually, Cooper did cite the Durham report by pulling out one small quote about how the FBI used "raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence."
McCabe played dumb. “I can only assume that what he's referring to there is the comments that Papadopoulos made to this trusted representative of a foreign government. That information does not, in my estimation, qualify as unverified intelligence,” he argued, suggesting it was worth taking at face value without any verification. But Durham reported that Papadopoulos didn’t really do that.
“Papadopoulos made no mention of Clinton emails, dirt, or any specific approach by the Russian government to the Trump campaign team with an offer or suggestion of providing assistance,” Durham said in the report. Cooper never brought this fact up.
The Durham report also unraveled the web spun by then-Agent Peter Strzok and then-lover/FBI lawyer Lisa Page and their hostile attitude toward then-candidate Trump. Despite Cooper admitting they were “two key members of the investigative team,” McCabe insisted they did not hold positions of influence on the team. Yet, he said he would have removed them if he had known their leanings (click “expand”):
COOPER: Were you aware of their feelings at the time and looking back, should they have been involved in this investigation?
MCCABE: 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 nor Lisa Page was ever in a position to significantly influenced 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 points out that the Durham report found the FBI applied different standards to Trump than they did to Clinton, but simply asks if they were handled differently.— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 16, 2023
McCabe calls it a "ridiculous claim" and downplays the fact the Steele Dossier came from the Clinton campaign. pic.twitter.com/dPaOkOGq3B
When it came to the different standards the FBI applied to the Clinton-e-mail investigation versus that of Trump-Russia, Cooper avoided getting into the details. He simply asked his guest: “Do you know what Mr. Durham is referring to? And were those investigations handled differently?”
Again, McCabe pretended not to know what Durham was talking about. He called it “a ridiculous claim” and proceeded to falsely suggest Durham was operating off a hypothetical situation where the Clinton campaign was working with Russia. “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,” he proclaimed, deflecting from the real issue.
Toward the end of the interview, Cooper gave McCabe free rein to lash out at Durham and the investigation. McCabe proclaimed that Durham’s work “was never a legitimate investigation,” just a “political errand” for Trump.
And despite the fraud and lies the FBI perpetrated to get a FISA warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, McCabe “Absolutely, absolutely” stands by his investigation of Trump
McCabe concluded the interview by falsely asserting that Russia was the reason Trump was elected president. “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,” he said.
There were no fact-checks from Cooper.
You can read the transcript of Anderson Cooper's interview with Andrew McCabe here.