The former acting director of the FBI says U.S. President Donald Trump may have committed a crime if he fired a previous chief of the law-enforcement agency in an attempt to end the probe into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
Andrew McCabe also said in an interview with CBS Television's 60 Minutes program broadcast on February 17 that the FBI was justified in opening a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working in concert with Russia during the campaign.
"The idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the FBI [James Comey] to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia's malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, 'Why would a president of the United States do that?'" McCabe said.
"So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?"
"Put together, these circumstances were articulable facts that indicated that a crime may have been committed," McCabe said. "The president may have been engaged in obstruction of justice in the firing of Jim Comey."
Trump said in a 2017 interview shortly after he fired Comey that he was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he fired the FBI chief.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
McCabe’s interview was highly anticipated after excerpts were released from his soon-to-be-published book on his experiences within the Trump administration, many highly critical of senior officials.
Trump has accused McCabe of lying and of being biased against him.