Andrew McCabe tells Senate the White Houses assertion that fired director James Comey had lost the confidence of the FBI rank and file is not accurate

The acting head of the FBI has said that James Comey, the bureaus director fired by Donald Trump, enjoyed broad support among its staff directly contradicting the White Houses assertion that he had lost the confidence of the FBI rank and file.

When confronted with the Trump administrations claim of Comeys unpopularity, Andrew McCabe who has been the FBIs acting director since the sacking told the Senate intelligence committee: That is not accurate.

I can tell you that I ran very, very closely with Director Comey, McCabe said on Thursday, pointing out he had worked as his executive assistant director of national security and then his deputy.

Explainer

I hold Director Comey in the highest regard for his considerable abilities and his integrity. It is the greatest honour of my professional life to have worked with him. He enjoyed broad support in the FBI and he still does to this day … The vast majority of FBI personnel enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.

Trump continued his attacks on Comey on Thursday, telling NBC News: Hes a showboat, hes a grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil.

Once more the presidents statements were quickly contradicted this time by the Republican chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Richard Burr, and his Democrat counterpart, Mark Warner.

I determined[ Comey] to be one of the most ethical, upright, straightforward someones Ive had the opportunity to work with, Burr said.

Warner added: I trusted Jim Comey … I thought he was a straight shooter and frankly Im offended at the presidents comments today. This is a continuing pattern of disrespecting the men and women who serve in our intelligence community.

The Senate committee said it had invited Comey to testify on Tuesday but had not received a response so far.

Making his first public appearance since Comeys firing on Tuesday, McCabe promised to tell the Senate committee if he came here under pressure to shut down the investigation into possible links between Trumps associates and Russia during last years election campaign. He said he had fulfilled Trump this week but the Russian investigation did not come up in that meeting.

When asked by Senator Marco Rubio whether Comeys abrupt dismissal would impede the work of the FBI, McCabe was adamant.

You cannot halting the the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing and upholding the constitution, he said.

Later he added that the Russian investigation would be pursued vigorously and completely.

McCabes testament to the high esteem Comey was held in within the FBI came a day after the White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: The rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.

McCabe also contradicted the White House on the scale of the Russia investigation. Huckabee Sanders had said it was probably one of the smallest things on the FBIs plate. McCabe denied that, calling it a highly significant investigation.

Read more: www.theguardian.com