Mike Pompeo Refuses to Say Whether He Knew About Counterintelligence Investigation Into Donald Trump and Russia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to answer on Thursday morning when pressed about whether he was aware of a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump launched by former FBI acting Director Andrew McCabe.

Pompeo defended Trump during an appearance on NBC's Today against allegations of colluding with Russia and pushed back against claims that invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president had been discussed within the Cabinet, but the secretary of state refused to say whether he was aware of a probe launched by McCabe in May 2017.

McCabe has said that he opened an investigation into Trump in the immediate aftermath of the president firing James Comey from his position as FBI director. He has also said he briefed the so-called Gang of Eight bipartisan group of lawmakers about his decision. 

“Did you know about the counterintelligence investigation into the president?” co-host Craig Melvin asked, pointing out that Pompeo was the director of the CIA when the investigation would have been launched.

“I haven’t probably followed this as closely as you have. I’ve been a bit busy,” Pompeo replied. “I find it sad. Andrew McCabe had the IG [inspector general] from the organization he worked for forever declare that he wasn’t credible, and that’s unfortunate,” he said. “So I don’t put a lot of stock in the things Mr. McCabe said.”

McCabe was fired by the FBI in March 2018, after a Justice Department inspector general report found him to lack candor in interviews with federal investigators. He has claimed the firing was politically motivated.

“My work at the CIA was always aimed at the singular purpose of keeping America safe,” Pompeo continued. “I don’t talk about investigations that we did or did not do.”

Pompeo then shifted to McCabe’s assertion that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had floated the idea of getting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

“I’ve been in the Cabinet for—since almost opening day for the Trump administration,” Pompeo said. “That's just ludicrous. I’ve never heard any discussion about it by anyone.”

But Melvin pressed his initial question again. “So you weren’t aware of the counterintelligence investigation?” he asked. 

Pompeo seemed to search for words before he eventually said, “I don’t talk about ongoing investigations or the absence of ongoing investigations. For two years, I’ve protected that, and I’ll protect it again today. But know this: This administration has been tougher on Russia than the previous administration by far. The only person you really need to ask about that is [Russian President] Vladimir Putin.”

GettyImages-896622074 Andrew McCabe, who was then the FBI's deputy director, arrives for a meeting with members of the Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on December 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Although Trump and his supporters have called McCabe’s actions “illegal” and “treasonous,” McCabe has said the Gang of Eight congressional leaders did not have any objections when they were informed about the investigation. At the time, the group included the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, then–House Speaker Paul Ryan and then–House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, as well as their Democratic counterparts. 

During an explosive interview with CBS's 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, McCabe also raised concerns about Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin. He said that he wanted to ensure the investigation into Russian election interference was on “solid ground” before he departed from the FBI.

“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion,” McCabe said during the interview. “That were I removed quickly, or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.”

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