Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe booted from agency
Eric Tucker, Associated Press | 3/17/2018, 3:41 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, a regular target of President Donald Trump's anger and criticism, just two days before his scheduled retirement date. McCabe immediately decried the move and suggested it was part of the Trump administration's "war on the FBI."
The Friday dismissal was made on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials and comes ahead of an inspector general report expected to conclude that McCabe had authorized the release of information to the news media and had not been forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
"The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability," Sessions said in a Friday night statement.
In an extraordinary rebuttal released immediately after the attorney general's announcement, McCabe said his credibility had been attacked as "part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally" but also the FBI and law enforcement.
"It is part of this administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day," he added, referring to Robert Mueller's ongoing probe into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. "Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel's work."
McCabe also asserted that he was being singled out because of the "role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey." Mueller is investigating whether Trump's actions, including firing Comey as FBI director last May, constitute obstruction of justice, and McCabe, a close Comey confidant, could be an important witness. McCabe said the release of the findings against him was accelerated after he told congressional officials that he could corroborate Comey's accounts of his conversations with the president.
Though McCabe had spent more than 20 years as a career FBI official, and had played key roles in some of the bureau's most recent significant investigations, Trump had repeatedly condemned him over the last year as emblematic of an FBI leadership he contends is biased against his administration. He appeared to revel in the termination, tweeting early Saturday that it was a "great day for Democracy" and a "great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI."
The dismissal is symbolic to an extent since McCabe had been on leave from the FBI since January, when he abruptly left the deputy director position. But it comes just ahead of his planned retirement, on Sunday, and likely jeopardizes his ability to collect his full pension benefits upon his departure. It could also add to the tumult that has enveloped the law enforcement agency in the last year amid the firing of former director James Comey in May and an ongoing FBI probe of the Trump campaign that the White House has dismissed as a hoax.
The firing arises from a wide-ranging inspector general review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. That inquiry view focused not only on specific decisions made by FBI leadership during the probe, but also on news media leaks.