FBI’s McCabe, a fre­quent Trump tar­get, quits post

The deputy di­rec­tor has been pub­licly lam­basted by pres­i­dent re­peat­edly.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Tucker and Sadie Gurman

FBI Deputy Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe, a fre­quent tar­get of ag­gres­sive crit­i­cism from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, abruptly stepped down from his po­si­tion Mon­day ahead of his planned re­tire­ment this spring, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion said.

A 22-year vet­eran of the FBI, McCabe has been pub­licly and re­peat­edly lam­basted over the past year by Trump, who has ac­cused him of bias be­cause of his wife’s po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions and an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion that pro­duced no crim­i­nal charges against Hil­lary Clin­ton.

McCabe, who has held a num­ber of FBI leadership roles and been heav­ily in­volved in in­ves­ti­ga­tions into ma­jor crimes in­clud­ing the 2013 Bos­ton Marathon bomb­ing, be­comes el­i­gi­ble for re­tire­ment in a mat­ter of weeks. He in­formed FBI staff on Mon­day that he was leav­ing the bureau’s No. 2 post effective im­me­di­ately, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple who spoke only on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss an in­ter­nal per­son­nel move. He is ex­pected to re­tire with full pen­sion ben­e­fits.

The de­par­ture comes as FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray makes changes to his se­nior leadership team, re­plac­ing two other top aides last week. Such changes are not un­usual when a new di­rec-

tor takes charge, but they are no­table amid Trump’s public pres­sure on Wray to get rid of of­fi­cials who were con­fi­dants of James Comey, whom he fired as FBI di­rec­tor last May.

This change also comes amid the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller into whether the Trump cam­paign im­prop­erly co­or­di­nated with Rus­sia to in­flu­ence the out­come of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. That in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­cludes a fo­cus on whether Trump sought to ob­struct the in­quiry by, among other ac­tions, fir­ing Comey.

McCabe has been re­peat­edly as­sailed by Trump since the fall of 2016, when it was re­vealed that his wife had ac­cepted cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions from the po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee of then-Vir­ginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Demo­crat and close Hil­lary Clin­ton ally, dur­ing a failed state Se­nate run. That episode is among the de­ci­sions un­der re­view by the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, which is ex­am­in­ing how the FBI han­dled its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server.

The FBI has said McCabe re­ceived the nec­es­sary ethics ap­proval be­fore his wife re­ceived the do­na­tions, and that at the time of the con­tri­bu­tions, he was not in a su­per­vi­sory role of the Clin­ton email in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But that has not stopped Trump and Repub­li­can law­mak­ers in Congress from re­peat­edly as­sert­ing that McCabe, and other FBI of­fi­cials, are par­ti­san law en­force­ment of­fi­cials har­bor­ing a bias against him.

Re­spond­ing to De­cem­ber news re­ports that McCabe would re­tire, the pres­i­dent wrote: “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?”

Another of the pres­i­dent’s tweets from last year said: “Why didn’t A.G. Ses­sions re­place Act­ing FBI Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clin­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” re­fer­ring to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions.

White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders told re­porters Mon­day that Trump was not part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process but that he stood by his crit­i­cism of McCabe.

McCabe has pushed back against White House nar­ra­tives that Comey was not well­liked within the bureau, and that an on­go­ing FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Trump cam­paign ties to Rus­sia was not a sig­nif­i­cant mat­ter. But he has not pub­licly dis­cussed in de­tail his in­ter­ac­tions with Trump or shared any per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions of the pres­i­dent.

That could change upon his de­par­ture from the FBI. Comey, for in­stance, au­tho­rized af­ter his fir­ing a close friend to share with re­porters de­tails of his own en­coun­ters with the pres­i­dent that he said trou­bled him. And for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan and James Clap­per, the re­tired na­tional di­rec­tor of in­tel­li­gence, have been out­spo­ken about their own views of Trump.

McCabe be­came deputy di­rec­tor in 2016 fol­low­ing ear­lier jobs run­ning the FBI’s Wash­ing­ton field of­fice and serv­ing as head of its na­tional se­cu­rity branch. A Duke Univer­sity-ed­u­cated lawyer, he joined the FBI in 1996 and worked on or­ga­nized crime in New York.

He took over as act­ing di­rec­tor fol­low­ing Trump’s May 9 fir­ing of Comey, and was among the of­fi­cials in­ter­viewed for the po­si­tion, which ul­ti­mately went to Wray, a for­mer Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cial. The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported last week that Trump asked McCabe whom he had voted for in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but Trump has said he does not re­call ask­ing that ques­tion.

McCabe’s de­fend­ers in­side and out­side the FBI call him a thought­ful, in­tel­li­gent and com­mit­ted ca­reer agent.

“FBI Deputy Di­rec­tor An­drew McCabe is, and has been, a ded­i­cated public ser­vant who has served this coun­try well,” for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder tweeted Mon­day. “Bo­gus attacks on the FBI and DO J to dis­tract at­ten­tion from a le­git­i­mate crim­i­nal in­quiry does long term, un­nec­es­sary dam­age to these foun­da­tions of our gov­ern­ment.”

Two days af­ter Comey’s fir­ing, McCabe ap­peared at a con­gres­sional hear­ing on world­wide in­tel­li­gence threats and con­tra­dicted a White House as­ser­tion that Comey had lost the sup­port of the FBI’s rank-and-file. He de­clared, “I can tell you that the ma­jor­ity, the vast ma­jor­ity of FBI em­ploy­ees, en­joyed a deep and pos­i­tive con­nec­tion to Di­rec­tor Comey.”

In one of the more dra­matic ex­changes of the day, he was asked whether the Trump-Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion was a small mat­ter in re­la­tion to the other work the FBI is con­duct­ing.

“Sir,” he told Sen. An­gus King of Maine, “we con­sider it to be a highly sig­nif­i­cant in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

An­drew McCabe, a 22-year FBI vet­eran, leaves post im­me­di­ately.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.