Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Friday he fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe effective immediately — just days before his retirement benefits would have set in.
McCabe, who abruptly announced his intention to resign in January, was fired from the agency in the midst of a review into the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.
Sessions, in a statement, said McCabe’s firing was the result of an “extensive and fair” probe of alleged misconduct, which concluded that he had made “an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.”
“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability,” Sessions said.
Details of the investigation have yet to be released, but are reportedly centered on communications with journalists about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The report is due out any day and is expected to sharply criticize the bureau and McCabe.
McCabe, who rose through the counter-terrorism and national security ranks, served as the agency’s acting director this summer after Trump fired former director James Comey in May.
His accumulated leave time would have allowed him to qualify for retirement this month with full benefits.
He was a frequent target of President Trump, who blamed him for not criminally charging Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server when she was secretary of State.
In response to accusations that McCabe exerted undue or partisan influence over the probe, the FBI has maintained McCabe had no personal conflicts, as he did not oversee that inquiry while his wife Jill McCabe was running for state office in Virginia as a Democrat.
In a statement, McCabe said he was 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 told the New York Times that his firing was intended to undermine the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
He called the move “incredibly unfair to my reputation.”
“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he told the Times. “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”
FBI Agents Association President Thomas O’Connor said the group “does not comment on personnel matters,” but is committed to ensuring that members are adequately protected.
“The FBIAA also strongly believes that personnel decisions should never be politicized,” said O’Connor who did not directly reference Sessions’ decision.
The president’s fixation on McCabe’s personal political leanings were apparent soon after he was named acting FBI director when Trump pointedly asked McCabe in his initial interview at the White House who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe, according to an official with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to comment publicly, told Trump that he did not vote.
Trump’s repeated public references to McCabe, in tweets and public statements subsequently, has helped feed suspicion among an ultra-conservative wing of House Republicans that the FBI was biased against the Trump administration.
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“This attack on my credibility is part of a larger effort..to taint the FBI, law enforcement, & intelligence professionals… It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation…”
-Former FBI Deputy Dir. Andrew McCabe pic.twitter.com/Zvvo1WyUqQ
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) March 17, 2018
SOURCE: USA Today – Kevin Johnson and Christal Hayes