CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired its interview with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe last night, and as expected, he covered quite a bit of interesting ground, including shedding light on the 2017 conversation about Donald Trump and the 25th Amendment.
It was also of great interest to hear McCabe tell CBS’s Scott Pelley that he wrote contemporaneous memos about his conversations with the president – and those materials are now “in the custody of the special counsel’s team.”
But perhaps the most memorable element of the interview came when McCabe described what transpired after an FBI official briefed him on a meeting with Trump
MCCABE: The president – launched into – several unrelated diatribes. One of those was commenting on the recent missile launches by the government of North Korea. And, essentially, the president said he did not believe that the North Koreans had the capability to hit us here with ballistic missiles in the United States. And he did not believe that because President Putin had told him they did not. President Putin had told him that the North Koreans don’t actually have those missiles.
PELLEY: And U.S. intelligence was telling the president what?
MCCABE: Intelligence officials in the briefing responded that that was not consistent with any of the intelligence our government possesses, to which the president replied, “I don’t care. I believe Putin.”
In fairness, it’s worth emphasizing that McCabe apparently didn’t hear this directly from the president, but rather, was told about Trump’s comments from an FBI official who’d just briefed the president.
That said, McCabe’s version of events is easy to believe in large part because it’s consistent with other information we already know to be true. It was last summer, for example, that Trump scrapped U.S. military exercises with our South Korean allies – for the first time in 70 years – because Putin suggested it to the Republican.
We also know Trump has little use for the findings of his own country’s intelligence agencies, so it stands to reason he must rely on information from someone else.
In related news, we’ve known for a while that Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal the details of his conversations with the Russian president. The new House Democratic majority apparently has some questions about this.
Politico reported late last week that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel “are actively consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter about the best way to legally compel the Trump administration to turn over documents or other information related to the president’s one-on-one discussions with the Russian leader.”