Fired McCabe claims he is facing retaliation by Trump team
Sheetal Sukhija - Sunday 18th March, 2018
The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe hours before he was set to retire
McCabe claims he is being targeted for being a crucial witness in the Obstruction probe against Trump
Sessions said he felt justified in firing McCabe after DOJ’s internal watchdog laid forward similar recommendations
WASHINGTON, U.S. - The former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was expected to retire with full pension benefits, was fired by the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday.
The move comes days after the Office of Professional Responsibility recommended in a report to Sessions that the FBI second in command should be fired.
The FBI office that handles employee discipline recommended McCabe’s firing over allegations that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misled investigators when asked about it.
In a statement, Sessions said he felt justified in firing McCabe, adding, “Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
He said, “The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability.”
McCabe, who was expected to stick around until March, announced his departure on January 30 - remaining on leave pending retirement - has denied those claims.
The former FBI Deputy Director played a crucial role in the bureau's investigations of Hillary Clinton and Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and said that he is facing retaliation by the Trump administration.
The report by FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility reportedly said that McCabe misled investigators about his communications with a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was writing about McCabe's role in probes tied to Clinton, including an investigation of the Clinton family's charitable foundation.
McCabe has, however, denied ever misleading investigators.
He added that the release of the inspector general's report was "accelerated" after he testified behind closed doors before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee where he revealed he could back up Comey's claims.
The official, who was dismissed two days before his 50th birthday, when he would have been eligible to retire from the Federal Bureau of Investigation with his full pension issued a lengthy statement in reaction to Session’s decision.
McCabe said he believes he is being politically targeted because he corroborated former FBI Director James Comey's claims that Trump tried to pressure him into killing the Russia probe.
He said, “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.”
He added, “The OIG's focus on me and this report became 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. This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort ... to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally."
Last year, Trump fired Comey weeks after the former FBI boss confirmed that Trump was being investigated in the Russia case.
Trump even acknowledged in a televised interview soon after that he fired Comey over "this Russia thing."
However, it was Comey's ouster that paved the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to tap Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller is now investigating the possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia and is also looking closely into a case of obstruction of justice by the President.
Comey's firing has become central to questions about whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the Russia investigation and McCabe could potentially be a crucial witness in Mueller's investigation.
Meanwhile, on Friday, soon after the decision was announced by the Attorney General, experts said questions are likely to be raised over whether McCabe received an overly harsh punishment due to political pressure by the Republican president.
Trump has long made McCabe a particular target of his ire, even publicly calling for his ouster.
In July last year, Trump tweeted, “Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation?”
Then, two days before Christmas last year, as rumors about McCabe’s exit were reported, Trump tweeted, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”
Reports later revealed that the President had even demanded to know for whom McCabe voted during a meeting in May 2017.
Officials revealed at the time that McCabe responded that he had not voted.
When he eventually announced his exit from the FBI earlier this year, the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders immediately clarified at a press briefing, that the president had not played any role in McCabe’s dismissal.
McCabe, who was appointed as the FBI Deputy Director under former FBI Director James Comey, quickly rose through the ranks of the FBI as a counterterrorism supervisor, playing a key role in reorganizing how the U.S. government interrogates international terrorism suspects.
His tenure as deputy director has been, at times, marred by internal tensions between the criminal investigative side of the FBI and the national security branch.
He ran the FBI for three turbulent months last year, until Wray was confirmed by the Senate as the new director of the bureau.
Last year, some congressional Republicans challenged the FBI’s rationale for opening the Russia probe back in July 2016 and had singled out McCabe in their criticism.
Now, McCabe's firing is set to jeopardize his pension as a 21-year FBI veteran.
Early on Saturday, Trump applauded Sessions' decision, calling it "a great day for democracy."
He tweeted, "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI. 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!"
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