Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has said that he will not participate in a scheduled Crossfire Hurricane hearing in front of Congress over concerns about recent outbreaks of the Wuhan coronavirus.
McCabe was scheduled to testify next week on a voluntary basis but said that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases among members of the Senate Judiciary Committee has caused him to no longer be willing to participate.
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
Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) both tested positive for COVID-19 this weekend.
While it could be understandable for McCabe to fear an infection from an in-person hearing, despite drastic measures taken inside the hearing room to prevent transmission, what cannot be explained is his refusal to participate remotely.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Congress has operated via virtual hearings, conferences, and other official operations in order to protect those invited to testify and the members themselves. Just last week, former FBI Director Jim Comey testified virtually in front of the committee. Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates also testified virtually several weeks ago.
In a letter from McCabe's lawyer Michael R. Bromwich, the former FBI leader accused of leaking investigative material and lying to those looking into malfeasance by the Clinton Foundation said that the choice to cancel his testimony was in order to protect the health of his family.
The reason he will not participate in virtual hearings, like his colleagues readily did, was vaguely explained only as "reasons of fairness."
Bromwich said that the type of hearing which he called "fair and appropriate," but which he also described as "complex and contentious ... simply cannot be conducted other than in person."
No such excuse was made by Comey nor Yates.
A delay in McCabe's testimony would likely mean that a new, in-person hearing would not be possible until after the next Congress takes session following the election. Should Democrats take control of the White House and the Senate, the likelihood is that the investigation into McCabe and his misconduct would be discontinued.
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley slammed McCabe for his unwillingness to testify virtually, saying that participation remotely actually benefitted the witness.
That is facially ridiculous, of course. I have testified over 50 times in Congress over three decades. There is virtually no difference in the testimony because there is virtually no interaction between a witness and the members other than the questions once the hearing starts. Moreover, such interactions can still occur by text with counsel off screen who can pass notes to McCabe, just like a hearing. Indeed, remote hearings are better for witnesses because they can have an entire team giving you messages off-screen in a way that is not possible in a live hearing
Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will move back the Senate schedule following the outbreak of COVID-19 inside the upper chamber, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and McConnell have said they will go forward on schedule with Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett.