New acting FBI director contradicts White House on Comey

WASHINGTON — Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe disputed Thursday the White House’s assertion that FBI employees had lost faith in James Comey, saying the former FBI chief had “broad support” within the agency.

“I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity,” McCabe told members of the Senate intelligence committee.

He said Comey enjoyed “broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”

“The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey,” McCabe said.

On Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said President Donald Trump “and the rest of the FBI” had lost confidence in Comey.

She said the White House had heard from “countless” members of the FBI to that effect.

McCabe also said there has been no effort to impede the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the election, but vowed to inform a Senate panel if the White House tried to intervene.

McCabe was testifying on Capitol Hill two days after Trump fired his predecessor amid reports he was infuriated about the bureau’s probe into whether his campaign aides colluded with Moscow.

McCabe said nothing could prevent the FBI from “doing the right thing” but promised to tell the Senate intelligence committee if any attempt was made to thwart the investigation.

Amid reports that Comey had asked for more resources for the Russia investigation, McCabe testified that he believed the bureau had adequate resources to complete the job.

He was asked by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio whether the dismissal of Comey had “in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped or negatively impacted” the investigation.

“As you know, senator, the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions, so there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date,” McCabe said.

“Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.”

In an earlier question from ranking Democrat Mark Warner, he vowed “absolutely” to inform the committee if Trump’s White house did take steps to interfere.