(Reuters) – Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo last spring recounting a conversation that provided “significant behind-the-scenes” details on the firing of former FBI director James Comey, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The Times reported that McCabe had turned in his memo to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Moscow colluded with President Donald Trump’s campaign to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election. Comey’s firing is one part of Mueller’s inquiries into whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
McCabe and the Justice Department declined to comment to the Times.
The Times reported, citing several people familiar with the discussion, that in the document McCabe described a conversation at the Justice Department with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after Comey was abruptly fired. Rosenstein had played a main role in Comey’s May 2017 dismissal, writing a memo in which he rebuked Comey over his handling of an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the election campaign.
But in the meeting at the Justice Department Rosenstein added a new detail: that Trump had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, The Times reported, citing the sources familiar. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Trump had wanted him to say, according to the newspaper.
Trump’s lawyers have cited Rosenstein’s involvement in Comey’s firing as proof that there was no effort to obstruct justice, the Times reported.
The Times reported that Trump wanted Rosenstein to mention that he was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe, but Rosenstein did not include the reference. Until his dismissal, Comey had been leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
The Kremlin has denied meddling in the election and Trump has denied that there was any collusion between his campaign and Moscow officials.
(Shalini Nagarajan in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)