Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is using the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis to delay his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, currently set for Tuesday.
In a letter issued to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Saturday, McCabe’s legal team claims the open testimony will pose a threat to McCabe’s health and the health of his family and that the hearing should be postponed to a later date because two key members of the committee, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) have both tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge reports that McCabe “declined” to testify next week “citing ‘manifest danger’ of COVID-19 among Committee members.” “McCabe is eager to testify voluntarily…at a future date,” the letter reads.
NEW #Russia #Durham: McCabe declines to testify next week @senjudiciary citing "manifest danger” of Covid-19 among Committee members + “McCabe is eager to testify voluntarily…at a future date when it is safe” McCabe conditions : in-person, not Zoom @CBSNews @LindseyGrahamSC pic.twitter.com/6OdyTcOa8T
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) October 3, 2020
“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,” McCabe’s attorney wrote. “Under these circumstances, an in-person hearing carries grave safety risks to Mr. McCabe, me, and senators and staff who would attend.”
McCabe, the letter continues, is “willing, able, and eager to testify in person” but only “when it is safe to do so,” McCabe is “not willing to put his family’s health at risk to do so.”
Although it is possible for McCabe to testify in front of the committee remotely, his lawyer says that for reasons of “fairness,” McCabe would rather appear in person.
“A fair and appropriate hearing of this kind — which is complex and contentious — simply cannot be conducted other than in person,” his attorney notes in the letter.
McCabe is slated to testify in a Senate Judiciary Committee probe into the origins of the “Trump-Russia probe,” as it has come to be known — the Obama-era Justice Department’s decision to investigate whether the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and, later, the Trump White House transition team, improperly collaborated with Russian officials.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller notably found no connection between the campaign and Russian officials after a two-year investigation and the only indictments to emerge from the Muller probe related specifically to interactions that former Trump campaign officials had with the FBI.
McCabe’s testimony is a follow-up to former FBI Director James Comey’s appearance, which happened last week, and which revealed little about the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, per Fox News.
Both Lee and Tillis tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday, after news broke that President Donald Trump, who presided over a Supreme Court nominating ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett — which the pair attended — also tested positive and began to show clear symptoms of COVID-19.
Lee and Tillis both say they are doing well, but their infection status likely means the Senate will delay business regardless of McCabe’s request. On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that, save for Barrett’s Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearings, all Senate business will be postponed for two weeks while Republican members quarantine.
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