The man temporarily leading the FBI told senators that one of the White House’s reasons for firing James Comey was “not accurate.”
Andrew McCabe, the interim FBI head, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, occupying a chair that was supposed to be filled by Comey, until the former Bureau director was abruptly canned by the President on Tuesday.
McCabe disputed the administration’s characterization the previous day by Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that “the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
“That is not accurate,” McCabe said. “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”
He also contradicted another claim made by Sanders that the FBI’s Russia investigation was “one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate.”
“Sir, we consider it to be a highly significant investigation,” McCabe told Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).
The interim FBI Director told the committee he believed the current investigation was “adequately resourced.” Media reports had stated that Comey asked for more resources for the investigation, before he was fired.
McCabe also told lawmakers that he had personally not talked with President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the probe.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates testified at the briefing, too, alongside the heads of the various US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.
Coates was asked by Sen. King if President Trump had consulted with him ahead of firing Comey, given the integral role the FBI plays in the intel community.
“There were no discussions,” Coates answered.
On Wednesday, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), sent a letter to the Justice Department Inspector General calling for an inquiry into the firing.
The DOJ’s watchdog had already started a probe of Comey’s management of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which have come under intense scrutiny. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cited Comey’s mishandling of that probe as justification for his termination.
“I request that you expand the scope of your office’s ongoing review,” Chaffetz wrote, “to include the facts and circumstances surrounding the removal of Director Comey.”