Friday, May 3, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe, excerpt twelve)

from The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew G. McCabe:

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, my first day on the job as acting director, I arrived at the office early, went through the morning meetings, did my briefs, and by 10 a.m. I was sitting down with senior staff involved in the Russia investigation, many of whom had also been involved in Midyear Exam.

As the meeting began, my secretary relayed a message that the White House was calling. The president himself was on the line. This was highly unusual. Presidents do not, typically, call FBI directors. Federal policy, written by the Department of Justice, strictly restricts such contact. There should be no direct contact between the president and the FBI director, according to the White House contacts policy, except for national-security purposes. The FBI does have frequent, routine, and direct contact with the White House by way of the National Security Council and other facets of the national-security structure, but when it comes to topics that do not concern national security, the FBI is supposed to go through Justice, which then makes contact with the White House counsel’s office. And vice versa: If the president or any other senior White House official needs to get a message to the Justice Department or the FBI, that message is supposed to go through the White House counsel to the deputy attorney general before it gets to us. The reason for all this is simple. Investigations and prosecutions are delicate and complicated, and can affect the lives of many people; they need to be pursued according to fixed rules, without a hint of suspicion that someone with power wants to put a thumb on the scale. That means those on the front lines must have insulation from politics—or even the perception that political considerations many be at play. So the president calling the acting director of the FBI is, and was that day, remarkable.

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