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How will Andrew McCabe’s firing affect the Mueller probe?

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired on Friday, two days before he was set to retire; Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was dismissed on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials. McCabe also reportedly kept notes on his conversations with the president, and has turned them over to the special counsel. Judy Woodruff talks to Adam Goldman from The New York Times.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    To help fill in the picture of where things go from here, Adam Goldman covers the FBI and national security for The New York Times.

    Adam Goldman, welcome back to the program.

    You have been reporting on this. what went into the decision to fire Andrew McCabe?

  • Adam Goldman:

    Well, essentially, what went into the decision was, they looked at an episode where McCabe tried to defend his reputation involving a Wall Street Journal story about the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

    He was accused of trying to thwart that investigation. He, as a deputy director, was authorized to speak with the media, and he made it known that that's not what happened with the Hillary Clinton Foundation investigation.

    And in the course of the I.G. investigation, they asked him about this media disclosure, and they dinged him for his response to those questions, and they found he had a lack of candor under oath, which is a summary dismissal at the FBI. It's a big deal, because FBI agents are taught from day one to be truthful, because their credibility is on the line, certainly if they have to testify in a case.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I.G. of course being a reference to the inspector general at the Justice Department. And it's our understanding that that report has not been made public yet.

  • Adam Goldman:

    No. No. We're still waiting. We thought it was going to be late winter, early spring, but that report by the Department of Justice inspector general is going to be a wide, wide, big report on the actions of the FBI in 2016, including decisions that former FBI Director James B. Comey made regarding the Hillary Clinton investigation, his famous press conference in July 2016 and letters he sent to Congress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have you have some understanding of how McCabe has handled this. He put out a very tough statement when the firing was announced.

    How is he dealing with this and what can we expect from him going forward? As we just heard, it's indicated that he's kept notes about his conversations with the president.

  • Adam Goldman:

    That's true.

    McCabe, Comey and others have all kept notes and are going to be potential witnesses in an obstruction investigation, if that ever comes to light, regarding Mueller's probe into the president's actions.

    I think McCabe feels under siege. He joined the bureau in 1996. Many people believe he was an honest FBI agent. Some people didn't like the decisions he made as deputy director, operational decisions, but it's a tough business. In any organization like the FBI, the CIA, they have to make the tough calls. Some people didn't like them.

    But he gave his life to the bureau and to the country. And in these dizzying events, he's now been accused of essentially lying, and it's cost him his pension just hours before he was eligible to retire on Sunday.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You cover the FBI. You talk to people all the time there. Is there any kind of consensus about how this will affect the Mueller investigation?

  • Adam Goldman:

    Well, you know, they have attacked the — McCabe's credibility has been attacked. He's another key witness. The White House has attacked the credibility of the former director — Director Comey.

    He is a key witness in this. You know, Republicans on the Hill have made text messages public between a couple of FBI — you know, a senior FBI agent and a senior FBI lawyer who worked on the Russia case. Their credibility has now been attacked.

    So, you know, in the end, these people who played an important part in this FBI investigation into possible Russian collusion are all under attack, and their credibility is going to be on the line. And it's not clear how that will hurt or damage Mueller's investigation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Adam Goldman with The New York Times, thank you very much.

  • Adam Goldman:

    Thank you.

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