Andrew McCabe Fired Two Days Before Retirement

The FBI's former deputy director was shamefully fired late Friday night, after which President Trump gloated on Twitter.

WaPo (“Andrew McCabe, Trump’s foil at the FBI, is fired hours before he could retire“):

Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday night fired former FBI deputy director Andrew Mc­Cabe, a little more than 24 hours before McCabe was set to retire — a move that McCabe alleged was an attempt to slander him and undermine the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign.

Sessions announced the decision in a statement just before 10 p.m., noting that both the Justice Department inspector general and the FBI office that handles discipline had found “that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”

He said based on those findings and the recommendation of the department’s senior career official, “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”

The move will likely cost Mc­Cabe a significant portion of his retirement benefits, though it is possible he could bring a legal challenge.

[…]

Trump tweeted early Saturday morning, “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!”

An email notifying McCabe of the move was sent to his work account and his lawyers just minutes before Sessions’s statement was made public, though McCabe learned of the firing from press accounts, his spokeswoman said. McCabe has been fighting vigorously to keep his job, and on Thursday, he spent nearly four hours inside the Justice Department pleading his case.

Michael R. Bromwich, Mc­Cabe’s attorney, said that he had “never before seen the type of rush to judgment — and rush to summary punishment — that we have witnessed in this case.” He cited in particular President Trump’s attacks on McCabe on Twitter and the White House press secretary’s comments about him on Thursday — which he said were “quite clearly designed to put inappropriate pressure on the Attorney General to act accordingly.”

“This intervention by the White House in the DOJ disciplinary process is unprecedented, deeply unfair, and dangerous,” Bromwich said.

McCabe has become a lightning rod in the political battles over the FBI’s most high-profile cases, including the Russia investigation and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices. He has been a frequent target of criticism from Trump.

His firing — which was recommended by the FBI office that handles discipline — stems from a Justice Department inspector general investigation that found McCabe authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to the media about a Clinton-related case, then misled investigators about his actions in the matter, people familiar with the matter have said. He stepped down earlier this year from the No. 2 job in the bureau after FBI Director Christopher A. Wray was briefed on the inspector general’s findings, though he technically was still an employee.

NYT (“Andrew McCabe, a Target of Trump’s F.B.I. Scorn, Is Fired Over Candor Questions“) adds:

Lack of candor is a fireable offense at the F.B.I., but Mr. McCabe’s last-minute dismissal was carried out against a highly politicized backdrop.

Mr. McCabe was among the first at the F.B.I. to scrutinize possible Trump campaign ties to Russia. And he is a potential witness to the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has taunted Mr. McCabe both publicly and privately, and Republican allies have cast him as the center of a “deep state” effort to undermine the Trump presidency.

As a witness, Mr. McCabe would be in a position to corroborate the testimony of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who kept contemporaneous notes on his conversations with Mr. Trump. Mr. Comey said Mr. Trump prodded him to publicly exonerate the president on the question of Russian collusion and encouraged him to shut down an investigation into his national security adviser.

[…]

Mr. McCabe was the F.B.I.’s second in command during one of the most tumultuous periods in the bureau’s history. He oversaw investigations into both the Trump campaign and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server — and he dealt with the fallout from both. He became the acting F.B.I. director after the sudden firing of his boss, Mr. Comey, and he publicly contradicted the White House on national television over whether Mr. Comey had lost the support of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents.

Since then, Mr. Trump has repeatedly singled him out for public attack, suggesting that he helped protect Mrs. Clinton from prosecution during the 2016 presidential campaign. As evidence, he pointed to the fact that Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill, ran as a Democrat for a State Senate seat in Virginia and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a political committee run by Terry McAuliffe, a longtime ally of the Clintons.

As recently as Thursday, even as the White House said it left Mr. McCabe’s fate in Mr. Sessions’s hands, officials there left little doubt where the president stood. “It is well documented that he has had some very troubling behavior and by most accounts a bad actor,” said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Mr. McCabe’s lawyer called those comments “vile and defamatory” and said they were intended to put pressure on the Justice Department. “This intervention by the White House in the D.O.J. disciplinary process is unprecedented, deeply unfair and dangerous,” said the lawyer, Michael R. Bromwich.

McCabe issued a scathing letter defending himself:

I have been an FBI Special Agent for over 21 years. I spent half of that time investigating Russian Organized Crime as a street agent and Supervisor in New York City. I have spent the second half of my career focusing on national security issues and protecting this country from terrorism. I served in some of the most challenging, demanding investigative and leadership roles in the FBI. And I was privileged to serve as Deputy Director during a particularly tough time.

For the last year and a half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegation against us. The President’s tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. He called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us.

No more.

The investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility. The investigation flows from my attempt to explain the FBI’s involvement and my supervision of investigations involving Hillary Clinton. I was being portrayed in the media over and over as a political partisan, accused of closing down investigations under political pressure. The FBI was portrayed as caving under that pressure, and making decisions for political rather than law enforcement purposes. Nothing was further from the truth. In fact, this entire investigation stems from my efforts, fully authorized under FBI rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau, and to make clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed.

The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the type of exchange with the media that the Deputy Director oversees several times per week. In fact, it was the same type of work that I continued to do under Director Wray, at his request. The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.

But looking at that in isolation completely misses the big picture. The big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized, public servants are attacked, and people who are supposed to cherish and protect our institutions become instruments for damaging those institutions and people.

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. 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 OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.

This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. 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. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.

I have always prided myself on serving my country with distinction and integrity, and I always encouraged those around me to do the same. Just ask them. To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was privileged to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see.

I have unfailing faith in the men and women of the FBI and I am confident that their efforts to seek justice will not be deterred.

Firing McCabe in this manner, smearing his reputation and depriving him of much of his pension, is shameful. The fact that this all happened after 10pm on a Friday night is a rather clear signal that the decision was clearly rushed to ensure he couldn’t simply retire with dignity. The fact that the President continuously interfered in the matter and was up late at night gloating about the result on Twitter makes it rather obviously a case of abuse of power.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Slugger says:

    Totally in keeping with who Trump is, has been, and always will be.
    Any employment law mavens out there?




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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An email notifying McCabe of the move was sent to his work account and his lawyers just minutes before Sessions’s statement was made public, though McCabe learned of the firing from press accounts, his spokeswoman said.

    Cowards. Every single mf’in one of them.

    The fact that the President continuously interfered in the matter and was up late at night gloating about the result on Twitter makes it rather obviously a case of abuse of power.

    And yet not a single elected Republican will say a word unless they have already announced they are retiring.




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  3. Jen says:

    Just another appalling thing done by a disgracefully inept bunch of cowards. There are no redeeming qualities to anyone in this administration. I hope McCabe can lawyer up and retain his pension. He served his country and deserves it.

    And there are no words left as to how truly disgusted I am with this president.




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  4. al-Ameda says:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday night fired former FBI deputy director Andrew Mc­Cabe, a little more than 24 hours before McCabe was set to retire — a move that McCabe alleged was an attempt to slander him and undermine the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign.

    By the standard used to fire McCabe, perhaps Sessions should be fired and stripped of his federal government pension for lying under oath before Congress back in 2017?

    I expect that McCabe will lawyer up.




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  5. Moosebreath says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    “And yet not a single elected Republican will say a word unless they have already announced they are retiring.”

    Of course not, it would show that their party’s first name is not Banana.




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  6. Mikey says:

    This is disgusting and reprehensible.

    I don’t believe for a minute an agent of McCabe’s experience and position displayed lack of candor sufficient to warrant dismissal. This was a political railroading, pure and simple, an Attorney General and his department bowing to political pressure from the Oval Office.

    I strongly suspect McCabe will not go quietly, mostly because he isn’t going quietly. This sentence, from his statement, for example:

    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.

    The word “witnessed” is important. I believe this sentence–indeed, the entire paragraph that begins with it–is an assertion by McCabe of witness tampering. He’s an attorney and an FBI agent, he understands the legal ramifications of words, and he chose these very carefully.

    The fact that the President continuously interfered in the matter and was up late at night gloating about the result on Twitter makes it rather obviously a case of abuse of power.

    It does, indeed.

    I truly hope McCabe is able to prove the malicious influence of our so-called President was a factor in his firing, and he will be reinstated and allowed to retire with the honor he earned over his distinguished career.




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  7. wr says:

    My guess is that McCabe will be quietly allowed to keep his pension as long as he promises to keep his mouth shut about the deal so Trump can continue to play tough guy and McCabe won’t be dragging the administration into court to answer questions they really can’t afford to answer…




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  8. becca says:

    A mean petty move by a tiny petty man supported by tiny petty people.




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  9. Ian says:

    What a dreadful way to treat a man that’s dedicated twenty years of his life to keeping America safe. I hope EVERY person in American law enforcement is p****d about this. Trump, you’re a small-minded, petty piece of c**p.




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  10. MBunge says:

    James Joyner has made it perfectly clear that he thinks “important” people should be above the law and most of the chuckleheads around here are too blind, deaf, and dumb to understand they will never be “important” in James Joyner’s world. So, there’s only one point worth making.

    According to the DOJ website, the current Inspector General was confirmed in 2012 and they current head of the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility took over that job in 2011. They are not Ttump’s people. They are not Sessions’ people. If anything, they are Obama’s people. When you attack this decision, you are not attacking Trump. You are not attacking Sessions. You are attacking the very normality you claim to be defending.

    This is a Rubicon. You don’t have to change a single thing you believe about Donald Trump but you should think long and hard about deciding that no one opposed to Trump can ever be wrong about anything…because that’s what leads to something like 2020 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    Mike




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  11. charon says:

    @Jen:

    He can sue for defamation based on Trump’s tweets in addition to alleging wrongful termination. Discovery should reveal a lot of stuff to embarrass Sessions and Trump. So yeah, not thinking things through Donnie.




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  12. And you have to love this from December :




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  13. charon says:

    @becca:

    He showed himself a cruel bully from the beginning with cracks about “Low Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco,” blood coming out of her whatever etc. etc. Then we had the video of him mocking the disabled reporter.

    His people voted for him anyway, they knew what they wanted.




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  14. gVOR08 says:

    Why does no one talk about an important part of this story? McCabe is ostensibly being fired for obscuring his role in pushing a WSJ story. If I’ve got this right, he made sure the story said the FBI was continuing to investigate the Clinton Foundation (over nothing). He was HURTING Hillary. He helped elect Trump FFS. This will show up in FOX and the rest of the RW media as a nefarious deep state agent punished for mumble mumble bad things against Trump. And firing the guy a couple days before his pension to brown nose Trump is incredibly low even for that racist leprechaun Sessions.

    It’s also, of course, discrediting a witness to Trump’s firing of Comey, the man who did more than even NYT to elect Trump. Kafka couldn’t do justice to this story.




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  15. gVOR08 says:

    As I noted above, McCabe and Comey both helped Trump get elected, perhaps feeling Hillary would win and they could afford to undercut her a little to protect their own and the agency’s reputation from Republican attack. There seems to have been a Giuliani connected cabal at the New York office of the FBI out to get Clinton. Maybe there is some deep, dark secret about Hillary they know, but can’t prove. It seems far more likely that it is simply the RW bent of a lot of law enforcement. It sure smells like there’s something rotten going on inside the FBI.

    Maybe Comey’s book, rushed out to beat the IG report on Comey, will enlighten us. If so, please let me know. I don’t intend to give self declared Saint Comey a book royalty.




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  16. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    When you attack this decision, you are not attacking Trump. You are not attacking Sessions. You are attacking the very normality you claim to be defending.

    Recommended reading on this subject.

    Consider also that although Sessions made the ultimate call to fire McCabe, the public record shows that the process resulting in the FBI deputy director’s dismissal involved career Justice Department and FBI officials—rather than political appointees selected by President Trump—at crucial points along the way. To begin with, the charges against McCabe arose out of the broader Justice Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

    Who was it that said there was something hinky about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation? Many of them are now decrying McCabe’s firing.




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  17. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    You are attacking the very normality you claim to be defending.

    Do you really think this was normal? Because it wasn’t.

    Even if McCabe really did display lack of candor, and therefore his firing was actually justified, there are several aspects to this that raise questions.

    Peeling off McCabe’s piece of the OIG investigation, fast-tracking it, and allowing him almost no opportunity to either review the OIG report or to collect and present exculpatory evidence are all things that were very far from normal. Fast-tracking the process to ensure he could be fired less than two days before retirement eligibility isn’t just abnormal, it’s reprehensible.

    And above all, the President’s repeated attacks on McCabe and calls for firing him to ensure he couldn’t collect his pension are very, very far from normal.

    Put all this into that context and it becomes pretty clear just how far from “normality” it really is.




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  18. Modulo Myself says:

    Look, McCabe is probably going to do okay with this, money-wise. I would say the firing is more of a threat against people with less visibility. Getting rid of someone two days before they retire and qualify for a pension is just plain cold, especially when you’re an administration without any ethics. If there were a straight and narrow White House it would be a different kind of sign: this is what happens when you leak. But in this case LOL.




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  19. @James Pearce:

    Who was it that said there was something hinky about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation? Many of them are now decrying McCabe’s firing.

    I do not find it mutually exclusive to have criticisms/concerns about the e-mail investigation and to also have concerns about the McCabe firing.

    Likewise, I still think Comey unduly and unnecessarily interfered with the elections, but I also think his firing by Trump was egregious.




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  20. becca says:

    Regardless that McCabe may be a jerk, Trump takes such sick pleasure in belittling and humiliating those below His Poutiness, he still manages to come out the bigger jerk.




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  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    This is pretty bad, I have to say. Though it’s more subtle than Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, in some sense that’s because Trump is a better liar. Or rather, he knows the audience he needs to convince, and he’s good at convincing them, cf. Mr MBunge




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  22. JKB says:

    “then misled investigators about his actions in the matter”

    Well, for us little people that is a crime and how the feds “get their man” most of the time, especially in these DC case.

    But more importantly, several former FBI agents have been on pointing out that lying about what you did is the quickest way to get fired from the FBI. You can make mistakes and survive, but you must not lie about what you did.

    McCabe needed to be fired to send the signal to all the FBI that their professional standards remain, even for senior officials.




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  23. TM01 says:

    So he leaks, he lies, then complains about the consequences.

    Meanwhile, Flynn is indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI.




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  24. @JKB: @TM01: None of which explains the action in terms of its timing, especially given that the full report has not been issued nor was McCabe given an adequate chance to defend himself.

    I think it is possible that he does deserve punishment and it is possible he does not–we don’t know. However, firing him like this and then having the President berate him on Twitter suggests political motivations that shouldn’t be reflexively defended.




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  25. Not to mention that all of this an avoidable invitation to a lawsuit.




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  26. Charon says:
  27. al-Ameda says:

    @gVOR08:

    Why does no one talk about an important part of this story? McCabe is ostensibly being fired for obscuring his role in pushing a WSJ story. If I’ve got this right, he made sure the story said the FBI was continuing to investigate the Clinton Foundation (over nothing). He was HURTING Hillary. He helped elect Trump FFS. This will show up in FOX and the rest of the RW media as a nefarious deep state agent punished for mumble mumble bad things against Trump. And firing the guy a couple days before his pension to brown nose Trump is incredibly low even for that racist leprechaun Sessions.

    It’s also, of course, discrediting a witness to Trump’s firing of Comey, the man who did more than even NYT to elect Trump. Kafka couldn’t do justice to this story.

    It really is unbelievable. Republicans are blowing up the FBI.




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  28. JohnMcC says:

    I am someone who does not and hasn’t for many decades had respect for the FBI as a safeguard of democracy. Quite the reverse. No one would suspect me of idolizing or fetishizing the Feds and if ever I’d been asked why I’d have pointed to the way the conservative activists in the FBI NY office connived with the NYTimes to keep nasty stuff about Hillary right in the nation’s eyeballs. I’d have pointed at people like Comey and McCabe.

    Now I find ‘their’ guys counting on people like me as the last line of defense for their nasty asses. And I will defend them. My congressfolks will hear about this Monday. But I’ll never love nor trust the SOBs.




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