Ex-CounterIntel chief says FBI may have been able to wiretap the president as far back as May 2017
Composite image of NBC national security contributor Frank Figliuzzi and MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace (screengrabs)

The former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI said former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was "playing chess at the highest level" with how he handled the investigation into President Donald Trump.

Frank Figliuzzi joined MSNBC "Deadline: White House" anchor Nicolle Wallace for analysis following her in-depth, live interview of McCabe.

"We had new news today and it's somewhat nuanced but it's really important and that is, between your conversation with Andy and ours in the green room with Andy, we've learned something," Figliuzzi reported. "We've learned he didn't open separate case on the president, he added the president to the already predicated, already long existing case on Russian meddling with the campaign."

"Why is that important? That case was a full counterintelligence investigation. What does that mean? You have specific and articulable facts that someone is -- or may be -- an agent to a foreign power," he explained. "He felt he had enough information to add Trump's name to that existing case -- that's big news."

"Explain what that let him do, adding Trump to that full investigation," Wallace said.

"If you want to talk theoretically, in concept, you have the full panoply of investigative techniques available to you at the point you add somebody to a full investigation," he replied. "That could even have included going to a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] and asking him to wiretap the president."

"Suddenly Rod Rosenstein doesn't sound nutso for offering to wear a wire," Wallace interjected.

"Indeed not," Figliuzzi replied. "This is a masterful chess move by McCabe -- he's playing chess at the highest level."