Pretty much no one emerged a 'winner' from today's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing other than perhaps Andrew McCabe. From the mainstream media to Trump to Congressional Democrats, pretty much all of the narratives surrounding the FBI's Russia investigation and Comey's sudden dismissal were succinctly obliterated by McCabe's testimony.
First, the mainstream media and Democrat narratives which suggest that Trump's firing of Comey was nothing more than an intentional obstruction of an ongoing FBI investigation was laid to bed pretty early when McCabe said "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date."
Rubio: "Has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped, or negatively impacted any of the work, any of the investigations or any ongoing projects at the Federal Bureau of Investigation?"
McCabe: "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date."
"You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing," McCabe says on if Comey's firing disrupted ongoing investigations pic.twitter.com/PMivNMlmkd— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 11, 2017
Meanwhile, McCabe also succinctly destroyed Democrats' demands for the appointment of an "independent investigator."
Senator Lankford: "Is it your impression at this point that the FBI is unable to complete the investigation in a fair and expeditious way because of the removal of Jim Comey?"
McCabe: "Is is my opinion and belief that the FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely."
Senator Lankford: "Do you need someone to take this away from you and somebody else to do it?"
McCabe: "No, sir."
Acting FBI Director McCabe: It is my belief that the FBI will continue to pursue the Russia investigation “vigorously and completely” pic.twitter.com/CIribAAlef— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 11, 2017
Going one step further, McCabe also destroyed another New York Times narrative that emerged yesterday (which we covered here) which implied that Comey was fired as a direct result of his request for a "significant increase" in funding for his 'Russia probe'.
Senator: "Can you confirm that that request [funding request for Russia probe] was, in fact, made?"
McCabe: "I can not confirm that request was made.
As you know, when we need resources, we make those requests here. So, I'm not aware of that request and it's not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources.
That said, we don't typically request resources for an individual case. And, as I mentioned, I strongly believe that the Russia investigation is adequately resourced."
All that said, the narratives emanating from Trump and the White House also took a beating.
First, on Trump's assertion that Comey confirmed on three separate occasions that he was not the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation, McCabe implied that such a confirmation would be highly unusual.
COLLINS: Is it standard practice to inform someone that they're NOT the subject of a probe?— Dartagnan Llorens (@Dartagnan_Llore) May 11, 2017
McCABE: "It is not." pic.twitter.com/mne3lKX9Qy
Then on whether the Russia investigation was "one of the smallest things on the plate of the FBI", as suggested by the White House, McCabe said the FBI considers the Russia probe to be a "highly significant investigation."
And then on whether Comey had lost the confidence of the "rank and file" within the FBI...
My Q to Acting FBI Director McCabe: "Is it accurate that the rank and file no longer supported Director Comey?" Answer: "No, sir" pic.twitter.com/ZKsyjc73gp— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) May 11, 2017
That said, McCabe did confirm for the first time publicly that Comey's decision to not pursue charges against Hillary Clinton did result in some "frustration" among certain agents who were "very vocal about their concerns."
"I think morale's always been good, but there were folks within our agency that were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case and some of those folks were very vocal about those concerns."
What's with McCabe's shrug at the end of this? Did he hope he might opine so Clinton in the headlines vs Trump? Not sure I trust this guy. pic.twitter.com/uk4g9V9J4H— Molly (@mememoreme) May 11, 2017
But perhaps nothing from the hearing today was more damaging to the White House's narrative than Trump's own words. As we noted earlier, after repeatedly saying the Comey was fired based solely on the recommendation of AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein, Trump today told Lester Holt that he planned to fire Comey all along.
Trump on Comey: "He's a grandstander, a showboat" it was my decision pic.twitter.com/a7sMG6hBAv— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 11, 2017
So, does that clear everything up?