FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has announced that he is stepping down. As of Monday, January 29, McCabe will take a leave of absence until he becomes eligible for his retirement pension in late March.
Andrew McCabe has played a key role in the continuing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. After former FBI Director James Comey’s meetings with Donald Trump, during which Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, Comey consulted with top FBI staff, including McCabe. When FBI Director James Comey was fired in May of 2017, McCabe served as acting FBI Director.
Prior to McCabe’s retirement announcement, Donald Trump had publicly denigrated his credibility within the FBI. Though McCabe’s reputation has in fact been stellar, Attorney General Jeff Sessions put pressure FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe. Wray threatened to resign if McCabe were removed.
In his continued efforts to arouse public suspicion of Andrew McCabe, Trump has cited campaign donations on behalf of McCabe’s wife, who ran for Virginia State Senator as a Democrat. Trump seemed to imply that McCabe wouldn’t be able to effectively do his job in a Republican administration, due to his wife’s political affiliation. Though the Justice Department is not a partisan organization, Trump appears to see it as an agency that owes him loyalty.
In July of 2017, Trump tweeted, “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hilary and her representatives? Drain the swamp!”
In October of 2017, during a campaign speech, Trump again claimed that McCabe and his wife received nearly $700,000 from Hilary Clinton. In reality, Jill McCabe received $467,500 from Common Good VA, a PAC controlled by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. She received another $207,788 from the Virginia Democratic party. Though McAuliffe is a long-time friend and supporter of the Clintons, there is no evidence that the Clintons influenced or were aware of the PAC donation to Jill McCabe’s campaign.
Trump seemed to imply, at the least, a conflict of interests. At worst (and by a stretch), he seemed to hint at an attempt by the Clintons to influence the FBI. The timeline, however, is significant. Jill McCabe ran for the Senate (and was defeated) in 2015. Andrew McCabe did not become Deputy Director of the FBI until 2016.
Andrew McCabe is not surrounded in suspicion, except for a flimsy suspicion based on manufactured events that are shown to be false. He had talked of retiring in the near future, anyway. Like many public employees, he does have some leave time to use up. With Trump continually maligning him, perhaps McCabe found his job untenable, and wanted to physically leave his office sooner, rather than later.
Why will Andrew McCabe be gone from office, starting immediately? Who will replace him? With Andrew McCabe gone, then, what will become of Robert Mueller?
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Stepping Down | CBS News [2018-01-29]
Andrew McCabe Steps Down as deputy FBI Director | Fox Business [2018-01-29]
Fact Check, Trump Wrong on Andrew McCabe | CNN [2017-07-27]