Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, long scorned by Donald Trump, kept personal memos detailing interactions with the president that have been provided to the special counsel’s office and are similar to the notes compiled by dismissed FBI chief James Comey.
The memos 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, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity. They also recount different conversations he had with Mr Comey, who kept notes on meetings with Trump that unnerved him.
Though the precise contents are unknown, the memos could possibly help substantiate Mr McCabe’s assertion that he was unfairly maligned by a White House he says had declared “war” on the FBI and 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.
The 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!”
Mr Sessions said he acted on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials who said Mr McCabe had not been candid with a watchdog office investigation.
Mr McCabe was fired two days before his retirement date on Sunday. 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.
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.”
Mr Mueller is investigating whether 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 Mr Mueller and are part of his investigation.