The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday delayed a hearing with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he refused to testify citing COVID-19 infections among Republicans.
McCabe’s refusal to appear may deny allies of President Trump an opportunity to confront him before the Nov. 3 election about his role in the FBI probe of possible Trump collusion with Russia.
It’s unclear if Republicans will seek to punish McCabe for refusing to appear either in-person or via video feed.
A spokesman for committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did not immediately reply to The Post’s request for comment.
McCabe, now a paid CNN contributor, occupies a villainous role in Trump’s telling of the Russia investigation, which ultimately found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump routinely accuses McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey of being “dirty cops” who sought to stage a “coup” after Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election.
McCabe’s wife was a Democratic state senate candidate in Virginia in 2015 and received $467,500 from a political action committee run by close Clinton ally and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
McCabe was fired in 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the recommendation of the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility after the Justice Department’s inspector general found he lied repeatedly to FBI agents and then-FBI Director James Comey about his decision to authorize a leak to the media.
Lying to the FBI is a crime punishable by five years in prison. Prosecutors reportedly recommended that McCabe be indicted, but he has not been charged and denies lying.
Republicans often say McCabe’s non-prosecution is unfair because former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI.
McCabe was acting FBI director during the initial phase of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and was the second-in-command when FBI agents sought Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders to monitor former Trump adviser Carter Page using an opposition research dossier financed by Clinton’s campaign.
The Justice Department inspector general last year found “significant inaccuracies and omissions“ in documents submitted by the FBI to the FISA court and a former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to falsifying records to the court.
McCabe attorney Michael Bromwich informed Graham in a letter that McCabe was unwilling to testify because Republican members of the committee were exposed to COVID-19 during a Sept. 26 Rose Garden event where Trump announced his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.
“Mr. McCabe was still prepared to testify voluntarily and in person on October 6 as recently as the latter part of this past week. However, since that time, it has been reported that at least two members of your Committee – Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis – have tested positive for COVID-19, and it may well be that other members of the Committee and staff who plan to attend the hearing will test positive between now and then, or may have been exposed to the virus and may be a carrier,” Bromwich wrote.
The attorney said McCabe could not testify via video feed because he wanted “fairness” and “[a] fair and appropriate hearing of this kind — which is complex and contentious — simply cannot be conducted other than in person.” Comey testified remotely last week.