Former FBI Deputy Director (and CNN contributor) Andrew McCabe has long said that he was willing to answer questions under oath about his controversial actions in the Russian investigation. He was scheduled to do so on Tuesday, but he now has refused — citing the infection of three senators with Covid-19. However, McCabe also refuses to testify remotely as did both former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. He simply says that “fairness” dictates that he not testify at all. The basis for his refusal to appear remotely is utterly and almost comically absurd.
It is hard to see the letter as anything other than a mocking refusal not to go under oath. McCabe knows that the Democrats may retake the Senate and the White House. At that point, Democratic senators are expected to shutdown all continuing investigations related to McCabe and misconduct in the Russian investigation. The problem is that recent disclosures have magnified concerns of serious conduct in the Russian investigation and, in the last few months, Comey, Yates, and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that they would not have signed off on the Page application if they knew then what they know today. Rosenstein called for further investigation into FBI misconduct, including matters that would relate to McCabe. Rosenstein expressly slammed McCabe in his testimony.
McCabe’s lawyer, Michael R. Bromwich McCabe is “willing, able, and eager to testify in person” about the FBI’s Russia investigation “when it is safe to do so.” However, his letter speaks more of evasion than eagerness. He insists that he is “not willing to put his family’s health at risk to do so.” He can of course do so with zero risk, as did his former bosses: remotely.
He recognizes the obvious logical disconnect and merely adds that for “reasons of fairness” McCabe would be unwilling to testify remotely. The Hill reported that Bromwich objected that “(a) fair and appropriate hearing of this kind — which is complex and contentious — simply cannot be conducted other than in person.”
That is facially ridiculous, of course. I have testified over 50 times in Congress over three decades. There is virtually no difference in the testimony because there is virtually no interaction between a witness and the members other than the questions once the hearing starts. Moreover, such interactions can still occur by text with counsel off screen who can pass notes to McCabe, just like a hearing. Indeed, remote hearings are better for witnesses because they can have an entire team giving you messages off-screen in a way that is not possible in a live hearing.
McCabe (who was a controversial addition to the CNN team) has been going on television to deny allegations and attack these hearings, including bizarre interviews spinning his own conduct. He will continue to do so but will refuse to give such answers under oath as he runs out the time for a possible Democratic takeover of the Senate.
McCabe’s position only magnifies concern over his veracity and transparency, two qualities that should be required for a CNN analyst. He has repeatedly used his CNN contract to spin stories that directly impact his legal and professional interests. He is now advancing a position that is absurd on its face but has received little press interest or criticism. He will continue to answer questions remotely at CNN of course — a hermetically sealed safe space for Andrew McCabe.