Fired ex-FBI deputy head Andrew McCabe 'handed memos on Trump to Russia probe's special counsel'

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Andrew McCabe's memos are similar to the notes compiled by dismissed FBI chief James Comey - REUTERS
Andrew McCabe's memos are similar to the notes compiled by dismissed FBI chief James Comey - REUTERS

Andrew McCabe, the recently dismissed FBI deputy director, has reportedly handed personal memos detailing interactions with the president to the special counsel's office - a claim dismissed by President Donald Trump.

The memos, which are similar to the notes compiled by dismissed FBI chief James Comey, could factor into special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as his team examines Trump campaign ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice.

Mr McCabe's memos include details of his own interactions with the president, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press. They also recount different conversations he had with Mr Comey, who kept notes on meetings with the president that unnerved him.

Though the precise contents are unknown, the memos possibly could help substantiate Mr McCabe's assertion that he was unfairly maligned by a White House he says had declared "war" on the FBI and Mr Mueller's investigation. They almost certainly contain, as Mr Comey's memos did, previously undisclosed details about encounters between the Trump administration and FBI that could be of interest to Mr Mueller.

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However, Mr Trump on Sunday poured scorn on the idea, saying that he never saw Mr McCabe taking notes during their meetings.

The initial disclosure on Saturday came hours after Mr Trump called Mr McCabe's firing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions "a great day for Democracy" and asserted without elaboration that Mr McCabe knew "all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels off the FBI!" In the last year, Mr Trump has repeatedly condemned Mr McCabe as emblematic of an FBI that he insists is biased against his administration.

The president stepped up his attack on the Mueller probe on Saturday, calling it a "witch hunt".

The tweets triggered a fierce response from former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic. "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history," he tweeted. "You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you."

Mr Sessions said on Friday he acted on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials who said Mr McCabe, who was due to retire on Sunday, had not been candid with a watchdog office investigation.

The dismissal likely jeopardises his ability to collect his full pension benefits and, more broadly, could add to the turmoil that has enveloped the FBI since Mr Comey's firing and as the bureau moves ahead with an investigation the White House has dismissed as a hoax.

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An upcoming inspector general's report is expected to conclude that Mr McCabe, who spent more than 20 years with the FBI, had authorised the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Mr McCabe has vigorously disputed the allegations and said his credibility had been attacked as "part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally" but also the FBI and law enforcement.

"It is part of this administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day," he added. "Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel's work."

The firing set off dueling tweets between Mr Trump, who called the termination a "great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI," and Mr Comey, the director he fired 10 months ago.

Mr Trump called Mr Comey "sanctimonious" and said he made Mr McCabe "look like a choirboy." Mr Comey, referencing his highly anticipated book that comes out next month, responded with his own tweet:

Also on Saturday, Mr Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, cited the "brilliant and courageous example" by Mr Sessions and the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should "bring an end" to the Russia investigation "manufactured" by Mr Comey.

Mr Dowd told the AP that he neither was calling on Mr Rosenstein, who oversees Mr Mueller's inquiry, to fire the special counsel immediately nor had discussed with Mr Rosenstein the idea of dismissing Mr Mueller or ending the probe.

Mr Mueller is investigating whether Mr Trump's actions, including Mr Comey's ouster, constitute obstruction of justice. Mr McCabe could be an important witness, and his memos could be used by investigators as they look into whether Mr Trump sought to thwart the FBI probe. Mr Comey's own memos, including one in which he says Mr Trump encouraged him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, have been provided to Mueller and are part of his investigation.

In a statement defending himself, Mr McCabe asserted he was singled out by the administration because of the "role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath" of Mr Comey's firing last May.

He became acting director after that but clashed with the Trump administration, including when he publicly rejected White House assertions that Comey had lost the support of the rank-and-file. He abruptly left the deputy director position in January and went on leave.