PARTY: CNN Celebrates No Charges for Andrew McCabe, Who Suffered a ‘Tremendous Cost’

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It was a mixed day for the body politic-poisoning and ethics-free CNN on Friday as the Department of Justice announced that beloved CNN contributor, prized media leaker, and Deep State hero Andrew McCabe would not be facing charges for lying about, well, being a media lapdog. Michael Avenatti? That's another story.

In the three shows since the McCabe news broke, it was nothing but an ebullient sense of relief for the network, celebrating how “a black cloud” has lifted despite all “he has endured” and having suffered “a tremendous cost monetarily not just when it comes to sort of stress” which they unanimously panned as having been a waste.

 

 

CNN host Brianna Keilar led off CNN Right Now with a half-celebration, half-pity party masquerading as a McCabe interview, which started by wondering if he could “just give us a sense of the reaction of hearing this news.”

An exasperated McCabe responded: 

I don't know if I can give you a sense of it. To have this horrific black cloud that's been hanging over me and my family for almost the last two years, to have that finally lifted is just an unbelievable — it's a relief that I'm not sure I can really explain to you adequately. It's just a very emotional moment for my whole family. 

A sympathetic Keilar next urged him to elaborate, which she certainly wouldn’t ask of Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, or any Trump official caught up in the Mueller probe (click “expand”):

Tell me — tell me what it's been like then. I know it may be difficult to even absorb this news which is so fresh, but what has it been like all this time, having that as you describe a black cloud hanging over you? 

(....)

So this was — look many observers looked at this investigation and they believed it to not have merit. To your point that it doesn't have merit, obviously you're not a completely objective party in there, right? So I just want to put that out there — that there are a lot of observers, independent observers who looked at this and said it doesn't make sense as you have said. Knowing that, how do you describe what happened? Did you feel like this was especially during a week where we've seen a lot of retribution? Is — is — does this fit into that category for you? 

After McCabe claimed that “all Americans” are concerned about President Trump’s unprecedented “revenge tirade” rendering America unrecognizable, Keilar wondered in another softball if he’s ever seen a case “this protracted and ends up in a big nothingburger.”

Believe or not, things got even softer and more absurd. Here’s how the interview ended (click “expand”):

KEILAR: Where — where you go from here? I mean, this was hanging over your head as you left your position as deputy director of the FBI facing a lot of criticism from the President. What are — what are your next steps? 

MCCABE: Well, I'm not sure I know just right away. I really am looking forward to celebrating with my family and friends. It's been so unbelievably tense and just such an incredible pressure on all of us and we're all very, very happy and I'm just — I'm just so glad my kids don't have to live with this anymore and then beyond that, you know, I — I — I am enjoying finally having the opportunity to speak publicly about things that I believe deeply in, about concerns that we all have about our country and the way things are going and I look forward to continuing doing that work and trying to add to the conversation in the most productive ways that I can. 

Keilar later gushed that McCabe’s case isn’t “going to go anywhere” while senior Justice reporter Evan Perez argued that, in terms of proving McCabe’s guilt, “was a very difficult case from the beginning and everyone knew that.”

While speaking to former Obama official Katrina Mulligan and liberal Republican lawyer J.W. Verret, Keilar grumbled that this was an example of the DOJ being “weaponized” and urged everyone to “just think about how much it costs to have a defense team.”

“So, we're talking about things that he has endured. To put into perspective even an investigation on you goes nowhere, there's still a tremendous cost monetarily not just when it comes to sort of stress and having this case,” she added.

Boo hoo.

The news first broke during Inside Politics, so the show came to a screeching halt at 12:21 p.m. Eastern with fill-in host Nia-Malika Henderson tossing to crime and Justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

New York Times congressional editor Julie Hirschfield Davis also chimed in, fretting that Trump “was not at all shy about impugning his motives and making it clear he thought he should be prosecuted,” so “I cannot imagine that he’s going to very happy.”

McCabe was the number one story at the top of CNN Newsroom at 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern as well. In the first hour, host Brooke Baldwin trumpeted that it was “case closed,” bemoaning that her colleague “became a favorite target of President Trump...and at one point accused McCabe — without evidence — of treason.”

To see the relevant CNN transcript from February 14, click “expand.”

CNN Right Now
February 14, 2020
1:01 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking News; DOJ Drops Criminal Probe of Former FBI Deputy Director]

BRIANNA KEILAR: But we start with breaking news. The Department of Justice is dropping an investigation into a frequent target of President’s, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who I am currently going to be joined by and just give us a sense of the reaction of hearing this news. 

ANDREW MCCABE: Honestly, Brianna, I don't know if I can give you a sense of it. To have this horrific black cloud that's been hanging over me and my family for almost the last two years, to have that finally lifted is just an unbelievable — it's a relief that I'm not sure I can really explain to you adequately. It's just a very emotional moment for my whole family. 

KEILAR: Tell me — tell me what it's been like then. I know it may be difficult to even absorb this news which is so fresh, but what has it been like all this time, having that as you describe a black cloud hanging over you? 

MCCABE: You know, it was — it was traumatic to leave the FBI, certainly in the way that I did and that's been tough to — to live with and this, the added insult and suspicion that comes with being under criminal investigation just made the entire experience a million times worse and I have to say that as glad as I am that the Justice Department and the D.C. U.S. attorney's office finally decided to do the right thing today, it is an absolute disgrace that they took two years and put my family through this experience for two years before they finally drew the obvious conclusion and one they could have drawn a long, long time ago. 

KEILAR: So this was — look many observers looked at this investigation and they believed it to not have merit. To your point that it doesn't have merit, obviously you're not a completely objective party in there, right? So I just want to put that out there — that there are a lot of observers, independent observers who looked at this and said it doesn't make sense as you have said. Knowing that, how do you describe what happened? Did you feel like this was especially during a week where we've seen a lot of retribution? Is — is — does this fit into that category for you? 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking News; DOJ Drops Criminal Probe of Former FBI Deputy Director; Andrew McCabe: “Absolutely disgrace” that it took 2 years to reach “obvious conclusion”]

MCCABE: Well, I mean, it certainly — look, like all Americans, I've been greatly concerned by what I've seen take place in the White House and in the Department of Justice, quite frankly in the last week and certainly the President's kind of revenge tirade following his acquittal in the impeachment proceeding has only amplified my concerns about what would happen in my own case. I've said from the very first day, from the very first day that we were notified by the Department of Justice that news of what should have been a confidential investigation was leaked to the public, that if they followed the law and they followed the facts that I would have nothing to worry about, but as — as the President's interest in pursuing his perceived political enemies continued over the last two years, we were getting more and more concerned about where this would end up because quite frankly we are seeing things happen every day in this country that many of us never ever thought we would see here. The pursuit of political enemies and the use of the criminal justice system and criminal investigations to exact some sort of political revenge on those enemies is something that should not be happening in the United States of America. 

KEILAR: You are familiar with all kinds of investigations that the Justice Department and FBI does. How often do you have one this protracted and ends up in a big nothingburger?

MCCABE: It's — it’s exceedingly rare. I'm not aware of a similar situation in my 21 years in the FBI. This was a very simple situation. It was a very simple set of facts, uncontested facts. The I.G. makes criminal refers to the Department of Justice based on their investigations many times a year and in almost in all of those cases, those referrals are declined, oftentimes before the ink is even dry on the I.G.’s report and for some reason this one dragged on, despite the simplicity, the small number of witnesses involved dragged on for almost two years against the backdrop of how we have seen politicalization of investigations. I just think that’s incredibly concerning and it should be concerning to all Americans.  

KEILAR: Do you believe this was done on the President's order? 

MCCABE: Well, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. It's — it’s certainly the timing this week coming on the tails of all the controversy over the Roger Stone sentencing is curious. Again, it's a decision that I — I and my attorneys feel confident they could have come to a long, long time ago, but nevertheless they did the right thing today by acknowledging that there was no place to take this and that no criminal charges should ever — ever be brought on it. 

KEILAR: Where — where you go from here? I mean, this was hanging over your head as you left your position as deputy director of the FBI facing a lot of criticism from the President. What are — what are your next steps? 

MCCABE: Well, I'm not sure I know just right away. I really am looking forward to celebrating with my family and friends. It's been so unbelievably tense and just such an incredible pressure on all of us and we're all very, very happy and I'm just — I'm just so glad my kids don't have to live with this anymore and then beyond that, you know, I — I — I am enjoying finally having the opportunity to speak publicly about things that I believe deeply in, about concerns that we all have about our country and the way things are going and I look forward to continuing doing that work and trying to add to the conversation in the most productive ways that I can. 

KEILAR: Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, thank you so much for joining us. 

MCCABE: Thanks, Brianna. Appreciate it. 

(....)

1:09 p.m. Eastern

KEILAR: Talk to us about your impression of this interview when you also add it to the McCabe investigation being dropped which the President is not going to be happy about, even as the President is happy that the Justice Department intervened in a very questionable way to lower the sentencing recommendation for the President's former confidant, Roger Stone. 

(....)

1:11 p.m. Eastern

KEILAR: What did you make of this news about Andrew McCabe and this protracted investigation into him? It's not going to go anywhere. 

EVAN PEREZ: Right and look, I think that's one of the things that Bill Barr was, I think, behind-the-scenes was frustrated with the previous U.S. Attorney there, Jessie Liu. Sitting on things, not making hard decisions, at least that's the view that the attorney general had and so Tim Shay, the new attorney general — U.S. Attorney there apparently made this decision. Can you bet, though, Bill Barr signed off on it and top officials at the department knew exactly where this was going to go. But it was clear as Andy McCabe has said. I think this was a very difficult case from the beginning and everyone knew that. They just were leaving it hanging for a long time without making that tough decision. 

KEILAR: Alright. Evan, thank you so much. 

PEREZ: Thanks, sure.

KEILAR: We really appreciate your report. [INTRODUCES PANEL] Alright, let's start first with this breaking news. So, there's the letter here, this came from — this was sent to the defense counsel for Andrew McCabe, which by the way — I mean, let's just think about how much it costs to have a defense team, right? So, we're talking about things that he has endured. To put into perspective even an investigation on you goes nowhere, there's still a tremendous cost monetarily not just when it comes to sort of stress and having this case: “We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the government has decided not to pursue charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe, arising from the referral by the office of the Inspector General to our office.” In regards to April 13th, 2018. A report entitled, “A report of Investigation of Certain allegations relating to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.” I mean, what do you guys think of this?

KATRINA MULLIGAN: Well, I mean I think it's the outcome that we all expected, and the fact that it's the outcome we all expected raises a lot of questions about why it took two years to get to this point. 

KEILAR: And to that point do you see this just being weaponized, these — being able to investigate someone, being able to reward someone when you just think of the week we’ve had here, even with Bill Barr sort of having this, I guess streak of independence that he did appear to tip off the white house on, is this — is this just weaponizing things to hurt the President's perceived enemies? 

J.W. VERRET: I won’t defend the — the professional decisions of Comey and his team because I don't think they were always the best, but there’s no question, this timing is suspicious that it comes right after the finalization of impeachment and the fact that this was a helping talk being point, a useful talking point to Trump that no, no, it was a witch-hunt. This fed into his witch-hunt. I have no question that the timing of this final release of news and that it waited so long it was helping talking point of the President. 

KEILAR: So, you were a former transition adviser. How do you think the president is going to respond to this news? 

VERRET: I mean, it’s — I think this issue is done. 

KEILAR: You do? You think it’s done? 

VERRET: It’s done to the DOJ. But yeah. He's going to tweet. 

KEILAR: What about the president? 

VERRET: Right. It's just — it’s worrisome to me that people at the DOJ know that, to please the President, they need to take decisions and we see even in the absence of explicit coordination we see people taking decisions intended to please the President. That’s what’s worrisome, particularly with the Stone matter. 

NB Daily Evan Perez Brooke Baldwin Brianna Keilar Nia-Malika Henderson Julie Hirschfeld Davis Andrew McCabe Donald Trump
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