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‘I don’t care, I believe Putin': Ex-FBI chief details alleged Trump denials about North Korea's nuclear arsenal

Andrew McCabe was acting director general of the FBI after the firing of James Comey.

Donald Trump has denied a link between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Donald Trump has denied a link between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

A FORMER FBI director has claimed Donald Trump said he believed Vladimir Putin and not US intelligence services about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Andrew McCabe was acting director general of the FBI after Trump fired James Comey.

Yesterday, he told the CBS 60 Minutes programme that Trump would not accept information he was being told about North Korea. 

McCabe gave details about one meeting in which he was not present but which he was informed about later. 

“The president launched into several unrelated diatribes. One of those was commenting on the recent missile launches by the government of North Korea,” he said.

And, essentially, the President said he did not believe that the North Koreans had the capability to hit us here with ballistic missiles in the United States. And he did not believe that because President Putin had told him they did not. President Putin had told him that the North Koreans don’t actually have those missiles.

“Intelligences officials in the briefing told him that that was not consistent with any of the intelligence our government possesses. To which the president replied, ‘I don’t care, I believe Putin.’”

McCabe said he was “shocked” upon hearing this, describing it as “an unwillingness to learn” by the president.

McCabe also told the programme that a “crime may have been committed” when Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

McCabe also said in the interview that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of Comey.

“And the idea is, if the president committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia’s malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, “Why would a president of the United States do that?” McCabe said.

He added: “So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?”

Asked whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was onboard with the obstruction and counterintelligence investigations, McCabe replied, “Absolutely.”

McCabe was fired from the Justice Department last year after being accused of misleading investigators during an internal probe into a news media disclosure.

The allegation was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington for possible prosecution, but no charges have been brought.

McCabe has denied having intentionally lied and said yesterday that he believes his firing was politically motivated.

“I believe I was fired because I opened a case against the president of the United States,” he said.

- With reporting by Associated Press

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Rónán Duffy

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