Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe last night in a surprising, but not completely unexpected move. McCabe was set to retire with his full pension on Sunday, his fiftieth birthday. It is unclear how much of his pension he will now receive. McCabe been with the FBI for twenty-one years.
The inspector general at the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, is conducting a review of possible wrongdoing at the FBI relating to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Horowitz is looking into whether former FBI Director James Comey violated FBI procedure when he publicly announced the FBI was not recommending charges against Clinton. Such announcements are usually reserved for the DOJ itself.
He is also looking into whether McCabe should have been recused from the Clinton investigation. McCabe’s wife accepted campaign contributions from former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe while she was running for state office in Virginia. McAuliffe is a close Clinton ally.
That investigation has been ongoing for a year and is expected to be released soon.
But Horowitz also conducted a second, separate investigation that focused solely on McCabe’s conduct during that time. That review recently concluded and found that McCabe was not forthcoming in an internal review of a decision by McCabe to allow FBI officials to speak with reporters about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
An October 2016 Wall Street Journal article alleged that there was a dispute between the FBI and the Justice Department over how to proceed in the Clinton investigation. The article alleged the DOJ was resisting issuing subpoenas and that McCabe was personally slow walking the investigation.
The Journal quoted agents who disputed that notion. The inspector general found that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak to reporters, and it would later be revealed that those officials were a public affairs officer and bureau lawyer. They described tense conversations between the FBI and the DOJ in which McCabe pushed hard for the investigation to continue.
The IG’s report has not been released, but people who have been briefed on it say it faults McCabe for his lack of candor in interviews with internal investigators. Lack of candor is a fireable offense at the FBI. Based on those findings, the FBI initiated its own disciplinary process that had recommended McCabe’s termination. It was then up to Attorney General Sessions to accept that decision or reject it.
Late Friday Sessions issued a lengthy statement stating he had dismissed McCabe. “Both the OIG and FBI [Office of Professional Responsibility] reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions,” Sessions’ statement read. Based on those findings “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
President Trump, a frequent critic of McCabe’s relished the news this morning. “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. 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!” the President wrote on Twitter.