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FBI’s McCabe meets with House panel as Grassley calls for firing

Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe met in private with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has called for McCabe to be fired.Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press/File

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, was interviewed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday a day after a senior senator demanded that he be fired.

“He ought to be replaced. And I’ve said that before and I’ve said it to people who can do it,” Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, told reporters.

Grassley has questioned whether McCabe has a conflict of interest and is biased against President Trump. McCabe’s wife in 2015 ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia, backed in part with money from associates of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in last year’s presidential election.


Such concerns with McCabe have increased among Republicans with the recent release of text messages that many Republicans claimed showed anti-Trump bias by agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating connections between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The president has complained on Twitter that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have fired McCabe a long time ago.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said Friday that he respects Grassley “but I could not disagree more with his suggest that Mr. McCabe should be removed from his post, as President Trump has repeatedly urged.”

Nadler said “the president and his supporters in Congress seem intent on trashing the FBI.”

Grassley said Trump shouldn’t intervene to have McCabe removed and instead leave that up to Christopher Wray, director of the FBI.

“Trump ought to stay out of it,” Grassley said. “I think it’s a Christopher Wray job.”

FBI spokesman Andrew Ames declined to comment.

House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, said in an appearance on Fox News last week he would be “a little surprised” if McCabe still had his job this week.


McCabe’s closed-door interview with House Intelligence had been arranged after months of efforts by committee Republicans angered over what they said was an inability to get more cooperation from the FBI in turning over material about the investigation.

House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes of California has suggested preparing contempt of Congress action against the FBI and the Justice Department.

Republicans, who have long wanted to question McCabe over how the FBI used a now-famous dossier about Trump with unverified accusations of collusion, also want to ask about the Strzok text messages.

Grassley and other Republicans have said they want to find out what McCabe knows about a particular text message from Strzok in August 2016 — during the presidential campaign — talking about a need for some “insurance policy” in the case of a Trump victory.

They also want to know what McCabe knows about demoted Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie Ohr, who was reportedly contracted to help prepare opposition research on Trump.

The House panel is trying to wrap up its inquiry into Russian meddling early next year

Representative Michael Conaway of Texas, the committee chairman, said Monday that there is no reason to drag the inquiry out much longer and that Americans need some answers.

"I got more people to talk to," Conaway told reporters at the Capitol, adding that those interviews won’t occur until next year.

Conaway acknowledged that committee staffers have already begun drafting parts of the final report.


Republicans and Democrats are expected to offer competing conclusions when the investigation is closed.

He didn’t offer a precise time frame for when the GOP’s report might be completed, but he noted that the committee opened its investigation in April and “all of these events” that are in focus “took place last year."

"Who did what, where, and when — and all those kinds of things — the quicker we get that out the better for the American people," he said.

Conaway also said Mueller’s own investigation into Russian meddling "could run on for years."

He declined to comment on complaints by other House Republicans that the Mueller investigation is being undermined by questions about the political preferences of some of its personnel.