- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2017

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will face his second grilling this week before House lawmakers on Thursday after the Justice Department agreed to make him available for a closed-door interview with the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees.

The Justice Department responded Wednesday to a request made by the committees to interview three FBI officials, setting up an interview with Mr. McCabe while they work to address requests involving two other bureau employees — FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Two key House committee chairman requested the interviews take place as early as this week so they could learn more about the bureau’s handling of investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and its probe of possible ties between Donald Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, sent a letter Tuesday to the Justice Department requesting interviews with key officials in order to learn more about the FBI’s decision to announce the investigation of Mrs. Clinton but not to announce the investigation of Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate.

The request has touched a nerve with Democrats, who say the “emergency interviews” are more about trying to undermine the credibility of the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election than uncovering relevant information.



The response from DOJ, written by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, requests that the interview of Mr. McCabe be conducted in a classified setting and that a transcript of the interview not be publicly released.

The DOJ notes that Mr. McCabe would not be able to address any questions about matters that fall within the scope of Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possibly collusion with members of the Trump campaign.

Mr. McCabe’s interview with the two committees would be his second this week. On Tuesday, he was grilled for nearly eight hours during a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee.

Republicans have voiced concern about the potential for political bias to affect investigations, in particular the Clinton and Trump probes, in the wake of several disclosures about key officials within the bureau.

But Democrats have been critical of their Republican counterparts’ requests, arguing they appear meant to deflect attention away from the ongoing Russia investigation rather than to help it.

“Instead of investigating allegations of obstruction of justice at the White House, or the ongoing threat of foreign interference in our elections, the Republicans would rather continue their obsession with attacking President Trump’s political opponents,” said House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat.

The political connections of Mr. McCabe, who temporarily served as acting FBI director after the president fired James B. Comey, have come under fire during the course of the investigation. His wife kept close political ties with Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a top Clinton ally, when she ran unsuccessfully for a Virginia state Senate seat in 2015.

Andrew McCabe cuts across every facet of every investigation in 2016 … from [Hillary] Clinton’s emails to the investigation into the Trump campaign,” Mr. Gowdy told Fox News on Tuesday.

Lawmakers took issue with Ms. Page’s involvement in both the Clinton and Russia investigations earlier this month when text messages she exchanged with a top FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, were made public. The messages, from 2015 and 2016, included disparaging remarks about Mr. Trump and favoritism for Mrs. Clinton.

She and Mr. Strzok both worked on Mr. Mueller’s team, but Mr. Strzok was removed after the messages were discovered as part of an inspector general investigation.

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