- Hardcover: 274 pages
- Publisher: St Martin's Press (12 March 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250207576
- ISBN-13: 978-1250207579
- Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 2.9 x 23.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 454 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump Hardcover – 12 Mar 2019
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"A rapid-fire G-man memoir...The book is patriotic and oddly stirring." - Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review
"Insightful...provocative...McCabe is a keen observer of detail." - The Washington Post
"McCabe's portrait of the Trump administration and of the president himself is as alarming as any we have seen so far -- including those of journalists such as Bob Woodward and former staff such as Cliff Sims." - NPR
"The account is laced with sharp, amusing characterizations...fans of police procedurals will love his descriptions of FBI culture, and critics of the current administration will find his denouncements satisfying. This is one of the better Trump-related tell-alls." - Publishers Weekly
"McCabe's book speaks with bracing directness about what was going on and why it matters...anyone who has followed Trump will recognize the accuracy of the portrayal of him in The Threat. - Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker
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BLUSH FACTOR: One would expect, given what we have learned about the mannerisms of the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, to find the book riddled with eff words. However, there is only a single such utterance (page 39) and it is not spoken by Pres. Trump or McCabe. Nor are there any other profanities, so, if caution is exercised, this could be suitable for reading in your prayer group or to most anyone else.
WRITING & EDITING: Frankly, the writing is a little tedious. The opening chapter, in fact, is simply boring. After that, though, the pace picks up a bit and one will find some interesting bits (not directly related to Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin or politics btw) regarding the early days of the Russian Mafia’s entry into the America. But be patient, because there IS a reason these bits play a significant role.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I chose the excerpt that I did, to illustrate what I believe is at the root of Mueller’s investigation. Pres. Trump decries the investigation as a witch hunt and people keep wondering if a smoking gun will be found, connecting Trump to Putin. In reality, I realized upon reading “The Threat,” that the real fear for Trump might be that a connection be found connecting Trump to Russian organized crime, possibly in connection with organized crime in Israel (Benjamin Netanyahu).
‘…Vadim Thomas, one of the best investigators on our squad, pitched the figure-skating case to the Southern District of New York—known as the Sovereign District of New York, because the U.S. attorney’s office there has a lot of power and does not shy from using it creatively. Tokhtakhounov was indicted and arrested by Italian police on charges of conspiracy to rig the competition. For months the FBI worked with the Italians and with Interpol to get him extradited. Before long, word came to the squad that a Russian oligarch had pledged two hundred million dollars to get Tokhtakhounov out of jail. Next thing we knew, his release was ordered by the Italian Supreme Court. He was gone, in the wind, back to Russia, where he has been living openly. (And from there, he allegedly continued to run criminal enterprises in the United States. In 2013, Tokhtakhounov was indicted for money laundering in connection with an illegal gambling ring that operated out of Trump Tower. Several months after this indictment, Tokhtakhounov was a VIP guest at Donald Trump’s Miss Universe contest in Moscow.) We’ve never had a chance to get him again. In the scheme of things, the evident corruption behind a figure-skating medal may seem trivial. But for me and for a lot of guys on our squad, this was a critical turn of events.
One of our worst fears was that the top tier of the vory v zakone would use money to undermine Western institutions in which many millions of Americans have reflexive faith. That fear had now been realized, and we asked ourselves what institutions might be next, and we asked whether any American public official might be susceptible to a two-hundred-million-dollar bribe, and we asked whether democracy itself might become a target…’
McCabe, Andrew G.. The Threat (p. 51). St. Martin's Press. Kindle Edition.
It was difficult to give a positive rating, for several reasons. At last, though, I did so because it is not what I expected – it is not a tell-all vendetta against Donald J. Trump. It is, rather, steeped with factual intelligence that a few investigators will likely find key to understanding what is likely to come from the Mueller Investigation. As they say, sometimes, content rules over pizzazz.
Four stars out of five.
I am striving to produce reviews that help you find books that you want, or avoid books that you wish to avoid. With your help, my improvement will help Other readers find books they enjoy reading.
McCabe's first chapter is an FBI agent's "take" on biographical information, introducing us to the routine reports they file--the 302's--and for this, he writes a 302 about himself as an FBI interviewer might have recorded it 27 years ago when he first joined the FBI. As with other examples of the FBI agents at work, it is surprisingly interesting.
After that, he gets to the subject matter that most people will be reading "The Threat" for--Donald Trump. In this case, it is his first meeting with Trump, at 6:30 p.m. in the Oval Office, on May 9th, the day that James Comey was fired. (Of course, I read all the parts about the Trump-Russia investigation first. But then I went back to all the rest, McCabe's training at Quantico, his first assignment at SDNY (not what I was picturing for that work environment), and his many years going after the new mobsters in America--not Italian-run crime, but Russian. They are, per McCabe, very different, and his description of his work was quite fascinating. Then there was 9/11--he had just been chewed out on a case in Florida and was expecting more of the same when he got the call--and his experiences with FBI directors Louis Freeh and Bob Mueller. This is good reading, and underscored two things for me: (1) intelligence agents are disciplined professionals with a strong work ethic and an impressive attention to detail (i.e. the opposite of President Trump) and (2) when McCabe--and Comey--say Trump reminds them of a mob boss, it's not like the rest of us saying it. They're not talking about mobsters they've seen on television or in movies. They know--from extensive contact as investigators or prosecutors--exactly what that means. They are choosing their words carefully and They. Know. I hope people will read -all- this book. Like Comey, McCabe does a great deal to remind us of what the FBI does for us--not fault-free, but it is a disgrace to call them crooks and liars.)
Like Comey's memoir, McCabe--the trained FBI professional--has an eye for detail that reveals character. He notes, for example, that while other presidents had officials sit in the comfortable chairs or couches in the Oval Office, Trump's stagecraft is designed to emphasize his superiority and importance, and make others feel diminished and uncomfortable. Trump--a tall large presence--sits hulkingly behind the imposing Resolute desk while the officials there at his request are told to sit on small wooden chairs lined up in front of him. It is a power play, and Trump continues it in every encounter, one way or the other (usually, it's by his non-stop talking on topics that are often unrelated to the subject at hand, and often repeating himself.)
McCabe, like Comey, observes how Trump gives his version of the truth--with the goal of having his listener agree with him and take Trump's view of reality as his own. At this first meeting, that means badgering McCabe over and over with the message that Comey was a terrible director, people hated him, everyone's thanking Trump for getting rid of him, and so on.
This will be a pattern often repeated--the leader force feeding a false narrative as part of a loyalty ritual. McCabe, trying to be nonconfrontational throughout the meeting, does contradict this and points out that Comey was, by and large, widely admired and respected and many people are shocked and depressed by his abrupt dismissal. (There seems little doubt that the reason for it was not "Clinton's email" as Rosenstein wrote, but the Russia investigation.) Trump even --shockingly--invites Russians to the Oval for the first time since 2014, secretly has the ambassador there, and bans U.S. media and advisors as he tells them Comey was a "nutjob" and gives them top secret intelligence that divulges sources and methods. (Americans only learn about this meeting from photos from the RUSSIAN Foreign Ministry.)
McCabe describes the chaos that this firing causes at DOJ as they scramble to protect the country from a president who seems to -possibly- be a Russian asset or agent. What to do about such a shocking possibility? McCabe--showing great courage--takes the risk of opening a counterintelligence (espionage) investigation against the president, as well as an obstruction of justice one. This could easily blow up in his face.
He wants a special counsel but Rosenstein, the Acting AG in terms of Russia (Sessions is recused), isn't sure. Whether McCabe's urging, Comey's release of a memo to the NYT about Trump telling him to "let the investigation of Flynn go", sitting in on Trump's interview of Mueller for a possible FBI director (one can easily imagine how this was NOT a meeting of styles or minds), or something completely different--Rosenstein also shows great courage and names Mueller as special counsel the following day, not asking the White House, and only telling them and the AG (who comes across as a racist, incompetent dolt) a half hour notice before going public. This, too, took guts.
McCabe further earns Trump's ire the following day by telling the House committee that, contrary to Trump, the FBI director was much admired and is greatly missed. But, as we learned from Comey's memoir (and McCabe already knew), Trump has had it in for him for years, back to the campaign. McCabe's "sin"? While he's a Republican (like Comey and Rosenstein), his wife is a Democrat, an ER pediatrician and, at Governor McAuliffe's urging, she ran for state senate in Virginia. Believing she would be a great state senator, McAuliffe had his PAC donate to her campaign..
This is the original sin for Trump. McAuliffe is a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton!!! How dare McCabe's wife know a friend of the Clintons' and have help from him for her campaign? (She had no contact with the Clintons in any way and they never donated to her--probably had no idea who she was.) This is the kind of loyalty Trump demands from people who work in government--very personal loyalty to him (not to any ideas or values, just to the man himself). That is, as McCabe points out, very disturbing, given the historic importance of the independence of the DOJ (J. Edgar Hoover showed what could go wrong--disastrously.) Trump, a man with no interest in history and little intellectual curiosity about anything not on television--including his Presidential Daily Brief--cares about two things: (1) getting his way and (2) being surrounded by sycophants.
It's no wonder, reading "The Threat", that last week there were leaks from intelligence briefers chafing at being told they could not tell Trump anything that differed from what he said to the public. That level of willful incompetence in a U.S. president is shocking and should be brought out in public hearings--as should many other things in this book (the idea that he didn't believe what intelligence said about Kim having nukes--instead choosing to "believe what Putin tells me.")
Robert Mueller will have a report some day and hopefully the new Attorney General (someone Trump clearly has brought in with the hopes Barr will protect him and be the loyalist he felt Sessions wasn't) will let Americans see it. The truth needs to come out, whatever it is and wherever it leads.
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