- REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
- FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe says he was fired because of the events he witnessed in the “aftermath of the firing of James Comey.”
- McCabe was one of three top FBI officials former FBI Director James Comey apprised of his conversations with President Donald Trump.
- Comey was fired last May. His firing – and his conversations with Trump – now make up the basis of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction-of-justice investigation.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said Friday that he was fired from the bureau because of the events he witnessed after President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey last May.
“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.
McCabe was one of three top FBI officials former FBI Director James Comey apprised of his conversations with Trump. Comey’s interactions with Trump are now an integral part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired Comey.
McCabe told Politico in an interview conducted earlier this month that the situation was “personally devastating” for him and his family.
“But at some point, this has to be seen in the larger context,” McCabe added. “And I firmly believe that this is an ongoing effort to undermine my credibility because of the work that I did on the Russia case, because of the investigations that I oversaw and impacted that target this administration.”
“They have every reason to believe that I could end up being a significant witness in whatever the special counsel comes up with, and so they are trying to create this counter-narrative that I am not someone who can be believed or trusted,” he added. “And as someone who has been believed and trusted by really good people for 21 years, it’s just infuriating to me.”
McCabe was the subject of a string of public attacks from Trump last year and this year, who accused the deputy FBI director of putting his thumb on the scale in favor of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump tweeted in December.
McCabe’s wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, mounted an unsuccessful run for a Virginia state Senate seat in 2015. Her campaign received $675,000 in donations from the Virginia Democratic Party and from Common Good VA, the super PAC run by Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter. None of the donations came from Clinton or her family.
McCabe was also not in charge at the time of the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business. He took on an “oversight role” in the investigation in February 2016 – long after his wife lost her election bid. Comey, who was FBI director at the time, was tasked with making the final decisions in the Clinton email probe.
‘A striking coincidence’
McCabe was forced out of the FBI earlier this year amid an internal investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) into his approval of unauthorized disclosures to the media in October 2016 related to the bureau’s Hillary Clinton email probe.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general Michael Horowitz reportedly concluded in a report that McCabe was not forthcoming during the OIG review. The FBI Office of Personal Responsibility (OPR) subsequently recommended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions fire McCabe, according to The New York Times.
McCabe testified before the House Intelligence Committee on December 19. Shortly after, media reports surfaced which said McCabe told the committee he could corroborate Comey’s account of his conversations with Trump prior to his firing.
Then, he heard the OIG would speed up the portion of its investigation into the handling of the Clinton email probe that related to McCabe. And shortly after, Trump referenced a Washington Post report saying McCabe planned to retire in early 2018, when he would be eligible for full pension benefits.
“FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” Trump tweeted.
“I don’t know if anyone from the White House or within the Department influenced the IG,” McCabe told Politico. “It’s a striking coincidence. One that can’t be seen outside the context of the president’s own public communications.”
He added that when he was tapped to be acting FBI director after Trump fired Comey last May, he did not believe he would remain in the position long.
“I literally walked into the building every day expecting that I would be removed from my position before the end of the day,” he said. “And if that happened, I didn’t want anyone to be able to just walk away from the work that we had done” on the Russia investigation.”
Among the steps McCabe took to ensure the Russia investigation stayed on track even in the event of his removal was urging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel, Politico reported. Another was to consistently brief the Gang of Eight – the eight congressional lawmakers with access to the nation’s most classified intelligence – about his work.
McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, used to serve as the DOJ’s Inspector General and said in a statement Friday that he had “never before seen the type of rush to judgment – and rush to summary punishment – that we have witnessed in this case.”
McCabe met with several senior DOJ officials on Thursday to make a final appeal not to be fired just days before his retirement. He met with the department’s senior-most career attorney but did not meet with Sessions, who was traveling at the time.
Sessions said in a statement Friday that “both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news med and lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.”
He continued: “Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI’s Office of Personal Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”