The growing tension between two frequent targets of President Trump, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his old boss, former FBI Director James Comey, was laid bare Friday morning.
“Andy is upset and disappointed in some of the things Comey has said,” McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich said at a briefing for reporters Friday morning. Comey told the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that McCabe never alerted him to disclosures he planned to authorize to The Wall Street Journal in October 2016. McCabe, who was fired last month after the Justice Department Inspector General determined that he lied about those disclosures, insists that Comey knew—and that there are email and phone records that prove it. The IG has referred McCabe for possible prosecution to the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C.
The open conflict between the two former associates reveals the stark reality of McCabe’s defense strategy, and its unlikely intersection with Trump’s: Both McCabe and Trump’s efforts to defend themselves against allegations that they acted improperly—McCabe through self-serving leaks, Trump through attempts to influence the FBI investigation into his former national-security adviser—now depend in large part on their ability to impeach Comey’s credibility. Trump, whose new nickname for the former FBI director is “Lyin’ Comey,” has taken this a great deal further than Bromwich, who has attributed the disagreement between McCabe and Comey’s version of events to Comey’s “fallible memory.” But Bromwich’s suggestion that Comey’s recall may be faulty comes at a particularly sensitive time for Comey, who has been trying to convince the public—through the launch of a new book and a whirlwind media tour—that he can be trusted to recall the details of his private conversations with the president.