McCabe’s shocking, but mild defense: ‘Both sides’ to blame for stirring up violent rhetoric

In a rare, unexpected move, disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe mildly came to the right’s defense Friday after one of his colleagues sought to smear the entire right as a bunch of mindless drones who’ve been duped by former President Donald Trump into believing it’s OK to act out violently.

(Video: CNN)

The discussion began with McCabe’s colleague, former FBI official Phil Mudd, comparing the right to terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda.

“Whether you’re dealing with ISIS or al Qaeda, during the days of Islamic terrorism, ISIS and al Qaeda, you needed radicalizers. That is, if an individual wants to commit an act of violence, often there’s a case of someone they respect — in the case of ISIS and al Qaeda, it’s typically on YouTube or in a chat room — who will validate that person’s feeling. You’re 18, you’re 20, you’re 25, you’re 30,” Mudd said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“You’re angry about America. I’m telling you as a respected figure you can use violence. We are seeing that kind of thinking transition from the fringe to a core movement in America among American conservatives. That is, far-right conservatives. Telling people that it may be appropriate to use violence for political purposes. So this is about radicalization that you would see in a lot of terror circumstances that I’ve witnessed.”

But the exact same thing can be said about the left, which in recent months has been responsible for a number of attacks on pregnancy centers and churches. The left also has a vast history of condoning and sometimes outright promoting violence:

Mudd continued by talking about some threatening hate mail he recently received.

“Let me close quickly on a personal note. This morning I woke up having received the most vicious piece of personal hate mail I have received in years. It appears from my reading of this hate mail that it results from someone who’s radicalized by what they saw us say, including me, in response to what happened in Mar-a-Lago and what that person is seeing their political leaders say,” he said.

“If you think this isn’t significant in America, it is across our country. And it is comprehensive. When people tell someone to be radicalized, people will radicalize,” Mudd added.

Again, the same thing can be said about the left.

Asked for more details about the hate mail, Mudd revealed that the hooligan who’d sent it had said he needed “to be smacked around.”

“This individual told me I need to be smacked around and that I’m the scum of the earth. I will not get into the additional pieces of this. I get this kind of stuff pretty regularly, but this is more significant than what I’ve received in a while. And again, first question was whether it goes to police. It won’t, because it doesn’t have some specifics I look for. But man, this is emblematic of what we have in this country,” Mudd said.

He wasn’t wrong about this sort of hate being emblematic of what’s happening in America. But again, it’s not all coming from the right:

Speaking next, McCabe slammed Trump for daring to question the credibility of the FBI despite its history of massive errors and scandals.

“There’s no question that the work environment for FBI people has been getting tougher and tougher. So, you know, Trump has been basically at war with the FBI since we opened a case on his campaign in July of 2016. That has a corrosive effect on the ability of FBI agents and professional support staff to — to develop the sort of trust that they need to get their job done,” he said.

He then linked the former president’s criticism of the FBI to the attack this week on the FBI’s Cincinnati headquarters by a deranged Trump supporter.

“Now we’ve gone one giant step further than that. You have people like this person from Cincinnati yesterday online, talking about actively targeting FBI agents as they conduct their work in field, as they’re out in all of our communities talking to victims, talking to witnesses,” he said.

“You’ve got thousands of FBI people out across the country every single day doing this vital and important work. And now to know that there may be a core element of extremists really anywhere in the country targeting them is incredibly, incredibly dangerous.”

Concluding his remarks, McCabe then stunningly offered a mild defense of the right by finally acknowledging that “BOTH SIDES” have a role to play vis-vis the violent atmosphere currently permeating America.

My question for our political leadership of both sides is where are you? It’s bad enough that their own rhetoric is pushing some of these extremists in that direction. They should be out actively trying to tamp this down,” he said.

“They should be making statements about responsibility, about true patriotism, no matter how they feel about whatever investigation they’re fired up about. There’s no — absolutely no excuse for this sort of provocation to violence. And they should all be out trying to tamp this down.”

It wasn’t much of a defense of the right, for sure, but for CNN, it was certainly better than nothing …


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