Whatever Else Donald Trump Has Said, He 'Really' Wanted the FBI to Like Him, According to New Book

"The president doubled down on a favorite theme — how much the FBI people loved him and supported him," Andrew McCabe writes of one White House meeting with Trump

President Trump And First Lady Melania Trump Visit Marine Barracks
Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty

In May 2017, one day after President Donald Trump made the highly unusual move of firing the director of the FBI, he requested a visit to the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he hoped to be greeted by a large and adoring crowd.

Andrew McCabe, who had stepped in as acting director after James Comey was dismissed, had an immediate response: He prayed for rain.

“[Trump] said he wanted me to promote the visit internally as much as I could — he wanted a big crowd,” McCabe writes in his new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.

“Make sure that courtyard is full, he told me,” McCabe writes. “Praying for rain, I shook his hand, and I was dismissed.”

In The Threat, McCabe explores the ways in which he says Trump is undermining both democracy and the nation’s security by attacking the integrity of America’s intelligence community. (The president has a long history of either criticizing, contradicting or undercutting the work of American intelligence officials, including in the investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and in the killing of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian dissident.)

McCabe also explains why he didn’t want to the president visiting FBI headquarters — a visit that never ended up happening, according to his book.

McCabe writes that it’s imperative the FBI operate independently of politics and presidents. (This belief is also the guiding theme of James Comey’s 2018 memoir, A Higher Truth.)

Trump, who fired McCabe last year just 26 hours before his scheduled retirement, fired back about McCabe’s book days before it was published last month.

“Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a ‘poor little Angel’ when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax – a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey,” Trump wrote on Feb. 14 in a series of tweets about McCabe.

Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on World Wide Threats, Washington DC, USA - 11 May 2017
Andrew McCabe. REX/Shutterstock
Trump Administration Cancels Search for New FBI Building, Washington, USA - 11 Jul 2017
FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

McCabe does not have kind words for his former boss either. He writes that not only was Trump’s proposed meeting with the FBI problematic, the way he went about requesting the meeting was also bizarre.

According to McCabe, Trump called on an unsecured line while McCabe was meeting with the team then responsible for the Russia investigation. The president could not stop talking about how pleased people were that Comey had been fired.

“[Trump] said, I received hundreds of messages from FBI people, how happy they are that I fired him,” McCabe recalls.

But he remembers a very different reality: After FBI employees learned Comey was fired, some cried in the hallways. (“We felt as if we’d been cast onto the dustheap,” McCabe writes).

Later that day, during an in-person meeting in the White House, the president emphasized his Comey point again. Trump also couldn’t stop talking about how many FBI staffers voted for him, according to McCabe’s book, and later even asked McCabe who he had voted for.

President Donald Trump. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

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“The president doubled down on a favorite theme — how much the FBI people loved him and supported him,” McCabe writes of their White House meeting. “He again quantified his voting tally among the FBI workforce. He said, again, ‘At least 80 percent of the FBI voted for me.’ ”

But McCabe writes that he doesn’t know how anyone could possibly know this information.

The FBI director began to feel even more uncomfortable when he realized that Trump and then-White House counsel Don McGahn, who was also at the meeting, were trying to “corner” him, according to his book. Though McCabe had told the president he was “always welcome” to visit the FBI, Trump kept pressing him about the visit.

“The president wanted to be able to come out of this meeting and say, ‘The acting director of the FBI invited me to speak at headquarters,’ ” McCabe writes. “The president and those around him wanted me to endorse the story they planned to tell about Comey’s firing — even more, wanted me to tell their story for them.”


But McCabe says he wasn’t having it.

His views of Trump, and Trump’s relationship with the FBI, are summed up toward the end of his book.

“Donald Trump would not know the men and women of the FBI if he ran them over with the presidential limo,” McCabe writes, “and he has shown the citizens of this country that he does not know what democracy means. He demonstrates no understanding or appreciation of our form of government. He takes no action to protect it. Has any president done more to undermine democracy than this one?”

The Threat is on sale now.

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