Friday, March 8, 2019

Andrew G. McCabe

Andrew G. McCabe served as deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from February 2016 to January 2018. He began his career at the FBI in 1996, working first as a street agent on the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, and eventually as its supervisor. Later, he led the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, the National Security Branch, and the Washington Field Office, and was the first director of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, which developed new methods for lawfully and effectively questioning suspected terrorists. He lives in Virginia with his wife Jill, their two children and a dog.

McCabe's new book is The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.

From the transcript of McCabe's Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, my guest is Andrew McCabe, who's written a new memoir called "The Threat: How The FBI Protects America In The Age Of Terror And Trump." And he had a long career in the FBI. And when James Comey was fired as director, Andrew McCabe became acting director.

Another thing you write about in the book, you participated in some of the presidential daily briefings that President Trump received. These are the briefings at which he gets all the intelligence reports that he needs to start the day. Give us a sense of what those briefings were like, how he responded, questions he asked, or things that he understood or things he didn't understand and how that affected the actions he took or didn't take.

MCCABE: Yeah. So let me just be clear. So the president's daily brief - or, as we refer to it, the PDB - is something that we looked at every day. And then, three times a week, we would gather with the leadership from the Department of Justice, so the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, some other folks who do national security work in the department. And we would go over the intelligence products in the PDB and, you know, other matters.

The president also received the PDB on those days, presumably. I was not present for the president's review of the PDB on a daily basis. My knowledge of the president's consumption of intelligence really came from more targeted or directed briefings that we prepared and delivered to the White House, so for things like homeland security sessions and briefings on particular issues, like the one I relate in the book concerning the Russian dachas.

It was a challenge. It's always a little bit of an adjustment as you have a new administration. Understanding how the president and his senior staff prefer to receive intelligence is a - there's always a period of kind of adapting to that new style, those new preferences. But what we saw with this administration to me, from my perspective, was very different.

The president was - it was challenging to get his attention on intelligence during these briefings. It was reported to me as challenging to keep his - you know, to keep him focused on the issue at hand. He's a - as I said earlier, he's a person who likes to kind of jump from topic to topic and often winds up discussing things that were, you know, not on the table or not on the agenda.

GROSS: Did you feel like he comprehended what he was being told about the intelligence?

MCCABE: Well, certainly not in the instance that I relate in the book.

GROSS: Tell us about that story.

MCCABE: Sure. So this had to do with the infamous Russian dachas, which were two properties, one in New York, one on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, that were maintained by the government of Russia and purportedly for the purpose of giving their diplomats some place to - you know, to relax and kind of go on vacation. It was our strong feeling in the FBI that the Russians were using those locations for intelligence purposes, which is a violation of what they're supposed to be doing there. Both were kind of closed and reclaimed by the United States under the Obama administration.

And during the Trump administration, the Trump administration needed to decide whether they would continue to close those facilities or they would turn them back over to the Russians. So we felt very strongly that they should...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue