Sessions fires former FBI deputy director McCabe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Friday night, dismissing the longtime bureau veteran who had been publicly pilloried by President Donald Trump and sparking a new war of words between McCabe and Trump.
Sessions said the firing — carried out a little more than a day before McCabe was set to retire from the FBI — was triggered by internal reviews that concluded McCabe violated Justice Department policies and was not forthcoming with investigators probing FBI actions before the 2016 presidential election.
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Justice Department officials determined that “McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions,” the attorney general said in a statement.
“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability,” Sessions added.
McCabe quickly lashed back Friday, linking the firing to the repeated public flogging he faced from Trump. The former FBI No. 2 also tied his dismissal to the fact that he can support former FBI Director James Comey’s account that he was fired because of an unwillingness to shut down the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
“Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” McCabe said in a statement. “The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President.”
“The fact that [Trump] has said all these things about me, he’s made all these attacks, he’s gone on and on — you can’t dismiss it, that’s the problem,” McCabe told POLITICO in an interview earlier this month. “That’s why presidents don’t typically attack senior executives in the FBI, because they would never even want to create the impression that that sort of improper influence could be taking place.”
Shortly after midnight, Trump hit back, tweeting: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”
Prominent Democratic lawmakers expressed skepticism about Sessions’ decision, but seemed cautious about denouncing the action until Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review is released. Many Democrats have praised Horowitz, whose office prepared the report that appears to have harshly criticized McCabe.
“In the absence of the IG report, it’s impossible to evaluate the merits of this harsh treatment of a 21-year FBI professional. That it comes after the President urged the DOJ to deprive McCabe of his pension, and after his testimony, gives the action an odious taint,” the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff of California, tweeted.
“I am going to reserve judgment on Mr. McCabe’s conduct until the Inspector General completes his report,” the House Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, Jerrold Nadler of New York, said. “But I am certain that President Trump has attacked the reputation of a career public servant, and his wife, and the rest of the leadership of the Department of Justice—and those attacks leave us all questioning whether the Attorney General has made the right decision.”
By contrast, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) quickly embraced Sessions’ move.
“Decisive, appropriate, timely action by @jeffsessions to fire Andrew McCabe. DOJ/FBI are legendary, historic, important agencies filled w/amazing men & women held to highest standards,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter. “McCabe was a ringleader of rogue actors who were a shameful exception at top; not the norm.”
Mark Meadows, the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said that McCabe’s termination showed the need to add another special counsel to probe the FBI.
“This decision is not surprising based on information that continues to unfold on a daily basis,” Meadows said.
The embattled FBI deputy, who was due to officially retire on Sunday, had stepped down in January after facing repeated public and private rebukes from the president. Trump criticized his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and accused McCabe of bias, citing his wife’s political ties to a prominent Democrat.
McCabe has been at the center of a Justice Department inspector general examination of the bureau’s activities prior to the 2016 election, including the investigation into the Clinton email matter. The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended that McCabe be fired, citing findings from the Justice Department’s inspector general’s report, which is expected to be released within weeks.
Sessions’ statement did not detail the precise allegations against McCabe. However, the fired FBI official’s own statement and text messages released by the Senate Judiciary Committee indicate that investigators concluded he ordered the disclosure of information to a Wall Street Journal reporter about an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
As McCabe was under fire over donations his wife received for her Democratic campaign for the Virginia Senate, he indicated he had pressed to keep the foundation-related probe advancing even as Justice Department officials questioned its merit.