The acting head of the FBI today pushed back on White House assertions this week that the agency’s rank and file had lost confidence in James Comey in the run-up to his firing as FBI director.
“I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee, though noting that some agents inside the agency who disagree with Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email case were “vocal” about their dissent.
McCabe, who had been deputy director of the FBI since last year after starting his career there in the mid-1990s, also offered an impassioned, personal defense of Comey.
“I worked very, very closely with Director Comey from the moment he started at the FBI [in 2013]. … I can tell you that I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard,” he said.
“I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity, and it has been the greatest privilege and honor of my professional life to work with him.”
His statements contradicted comments from White House officials this week.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing Wednesday that, “most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told CNN Wednesday, “Jim Comey had lost the confidence of people at the FBI.”
The ‘highly significant’ investigation continues
McCabe also told senators today that the firing of Comey has not affected his agency’s investigation into whether associates of President Trump colluded with Russian officials to influence last year’s presidential election, and he promised to speak up if there is any effort by the White House to impede the wide-ranging probe.
“As you know senator, the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee, calling the Russia probe “a highly significant investigation,” despite White House claims to the contrary.
“There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date. You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing.”
The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., asked McCabe whether he would commit to informing the committee if the White House makes any moves to “quash” or otherwise impede the FBI’s Russia-related investigation.
“I absolutely do,” McCabe responded.
McCabe challenged reports that Comey requested additional resources
During today’s hearing, McCabe challenged reports that Comey had requested additional resources for the Russia investigation just before being fired.
“I’m not aware of that request, and it’s not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources,” McCabe said. “We don’t typically request resources for an individual case. And … I strongly believe that the Russia investigation is adequately…