Sessions Fires FBI's McCabe 03/17 11:12
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he had 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."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he had
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 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
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
"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
McCabe came under particular scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that
revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how
aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. The watchdog office
has concluded that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street
Journal reporter for that story and that he had not been forthcoming with
investigators, which McCabe denies.
In his statement, McCabe said he had the authority to share information with
journalists through the public affairs office, a practice he said was common
and continued under current Director Christopher Wray. He said he had honestly
answered questions about whom he had spoken to and when, and that when he
thought his answers were misunderstood, contacted investigators to correct them.
The media outreach came at a time when McCabe said he was facing public
accusations of partisanship and followed reports that his wife, during a run
for state political office, had received campaign contributions from a close
Clinton ally. McCabe suggested in his statement that he was trying to "set the
record straight" about the FBI's independence against the background of those
Despite his defense, officials at the FBI's Office of Professional
Responsibility recommended the firing, leaving Justice Department leaders in a
difficult situation. Sessions, whose job status has for months appeared shaky
under his own blistering criticism from Trump, risked inflaming the White House
if he decided against firing McCabe. But a decision to dismiss McCabe days
before his firing nonetheless carried the risk of angering his rank-and-file
supporters at the FBI.
McCabe enjoyed a rapid career ascent in the bureau after joining in 1996.
Before being named FBI deputy director last year, he led the bureau's national
security branch and also the Washington field office, one of the its largest.
But he became entangled in presidential politics in 2016 when it was
revealed that his wife, during an unsuccessful bid for the Virginia state
Senate, had received campaign contributions from the political action committee
of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally. The FBI has said
McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife's candidacy and
was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time.
He became acting director following the firing last May of Comey, and
immediately assumed direct oversight of the FBI's investigation into the Trump
He quickly found himself at odds with the Trump administration.
As a congressional hearing days after Comey's dismissal, McCabe contradicted
White House assertions that the Trump campaign investigation was one of the
"smallest things" on the FBI's plate and strongly disputed the administration's
suggestion that Comey had lost the support of the bureau's workforce.
"I can tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees,
enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey," McCabe said.