Andrew McCabe’s “The Threat”: An extensive, but fascinating light into the FBI’s greatest challenge yet

The FBI is often regarded as one the strongest line of defenses against “threats” to the United States. These threats can be linked all the way from organised crime from other countries, to more stereotypical beliefs of them aiding criminal investigations against serial killers as often portrayed in television.

Andrew McCabe’s, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump is an autobiography that examines his career within the FBI. In this work, he thoroughly and thoughtfully examines President Donald Trump’s actions through his initial few years as president.

In the opening chapter, he makes the note of how, “the FBI must perform a balancing act. To keep the American people safe, the FBI must be independent of the White House…Since the start of the Trump administration, that relationship has been in profound jeopardy. The president has stepped over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he has encountered them…a threat to both the Bureau and the nation.” This the ultimate thesis of the book, and what he centers his narrative around.

McGabe throughout his book makes very clear what the duties and responsibilities of the FBI should be, and more so how it should be interacting with the rest of the country. While it is an ideal version of it, he isn’t naive to the realities on how external factors do play a role at some points. However, this vision of an “independent and apolitical” service to protect the citizens of America is being “threatened” by the current White House administration. One particular example is how the Trump administration is increasingly politicizing everything, including things that don’t need to be politicized, and these are often done for what is largely perceived as his own interests.

The most obvious, and clear example of this is the FBI relationship with Trump and the Russian investigation, as well as the Clinton email investigation. In both of these instances, the president had made attacks, whether directly or indirectly, against the former FBI director, as well as McCabe himself who was in the acting position following the firing of the previous, James Comey. In both of the instances, these individuals were part of the “swamp” that Trump was desperately attempting to drain since becoming the president. The greatest irony is that McCabe ultimately paints the president as a mob boss. Similar to how a small store might pay for “protection” from the mob, the FBI is an organization that is supposed to remain separate and act on its own, but now answers to a higher, almost undeniable, power that threatens the country.

It’s an extensive but fascinating read, that helps provide the reader with a fascinating and introspective look at the FBI first hand, from the entry level spots to the more advanced and leadership roles within the organization. Generally, given his position and role with what can be argued as a politically intense time period of America, his book is meant to alert readers to the greatest threat he thinks the nation is facing which, not surprisingly, is Donald Trump himself. Very early on within the book, he discusses what the FBI is supposed to be, and how, by extension, it is supposed to interact with the White House. He additionally mentions that Trump firing the former FBI director was a great threat to this relationship and the stability of the FBI.

Despite having a criminal justice background, it’s a very easy and engaging read if one doesn’t have a formal background within the subject matter.