Former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe launched probes into Donald Trump’s Russia ties and obstruction of justice out of worry there might be a cover-up, according to an excerpt from a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Thursday.
McCabe, who became the acting director at the bureau after Trump fired former Director James Comey in May 2017, said he made the decision shortly after speaking to Trump for the first time.
“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion [so] that, were I removed quickly or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace,” McCabe said.
“I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground, and if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they made that decision," McCabe added.
This is the first time McCabe has spoken publicly about why he opened the investigation into Trump after Comey’s firing.
“[McCabe] opened a completely baseless investigation into the president,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to CBS.
But more explosive revelations from the interview are yet to come, according to "60 Minutes" reporter Scott Pelley, who told “CBS This Morning” that McCabe confirmed that meetings took place at a high level about removing Trump via the 25th amendment soon after Comey’s dismissal.
“There were meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment,” Pelley said.
"These were the eight days from Comey's firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what do with the president."
Pelley also says McCabe confirmed reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offered to wear a wire when speaking with Trump, dismissing suggestions that the offer was made as a joke.
"McCabe in [the] interview says no, it came up more than once and it was so serious that he took it to the lawyers at the FBI to discuss it,” Pelley said.
In an excerpt from his new book, “The Threat,” published in the Atlantic Thursday morning, McCabe offers further indictments of his former boss.
“Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants. If he were 'on the box' at Quantico, he would break the machine,” he said, referring to a lie detector machine.
McCabe described an encounter with Trump in the Oval Office where he felt the president was pushing him to organize a meeting at the FBI to send a message to employees in the wake of the Comey firing.
“In this moment, I felt the way I’d felt in 1998, in a case involving the Russian mafia, when I sent a man I’ll call Big Felix in to meet with a mafia boss named Dimitri Gufield,” McCabe said.
“The same kind of thing was happening here, in the Oval Office. Dimitri had wanted Felix to endorse his protection scheme. This is a dangerous business, and it’s a bad neighborhood, and you know, if you want, I can protect you from that. If you want my protection, I can protect you. Do you want my protection? The president and his men were trying to work me the way a criminal brigade would operate.”
Cover image: A screen grab of McCabe from his "60 Minutes" interview.