As you probably heard, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was fired last night by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. From the Washington Post [emphasis added]:
Sessions announced the decision in a statement just before 10 p.m., noting that both the Justice Department inspector general and the FBI office that handles discipline had found “that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”
He said based on those findings and the recommendation of the department’s senior career official, “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
McCabe was set to retire as soon as Sunday, so this move isn’t cutting short any work he was doing for the bureau. The real impact is personal. McCabe, who has worked for the FBI for 21 years, will likely lose his pension (though he could sue to get it back). Already, the reactions to the firing are falling into two distinct camps. On the one hand, there are those claiming this is justice:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
On the other hand, McCabe issued a lengthy statement claiming this is part of a Trump administration “war on the FBI” and, more specifically, an attempt to discredit his testimony:
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. The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President. The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a 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. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.
This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work.
McCabe doesn’t say he’s completely blameless, only that he’s paying too big a price for what was merely a misunderstanding [emphasis added]:
The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.
So was this just a big misunderstanding? One former supervisory special agent with the FBI who describes himself as a “fan” of McCabe, says it’s difficult for him to believe the Office of Professional Responsibility, which recommended McCabe firing, is acting politically.
Returning to McCabe’s impending situation, although the timing of the FBI’s recommendation that he be terminated is certainly puzzling, I do not believe an honest observer can say with certainty that it is political.
The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, known as OPR, and Inspection Division are staffed with skilled professionals who could not care less about politics. Their job is to go where the facts lead them, maintain consistency in standards of conduct and hold accountable those who fail to live up to those standards. While we will not know the full facts of this case until the Inspector General’s report is released, and McCabe should be presumed innocent until we are presented with conclusive evidence to the contrary, I suspect OPR weighed the following question: Is it right for the FBI to insist that field agents remain pure and unimpeachable while holding its deputy director, the FBI’s highest-ranking special agent, to a lower standard?
He concludes that while this move may benefit AG Sessions and the White House, that doesn’t automatically prove it’s some kind of partisan setup. Maybe doing the right thing in this case also happens to be the thing the White House wants done. We won’t really know how reasonable this firing was until we see the IG report that prompted it. That report is supposed to be out any day now. But in the meantime, people are already jumping to conclusions about what McCabe’s firing really means.
The firing of Andrew McCabe is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the FBI, obstruct justice, and pervert the rule of law. Trump is intent on punishing and intimidating all of the dedicated law enforcement personnel who stand in his way.
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) March 17, 2018
While others are pushing back just as hard:
What a crock. To believe this, you have to believe that McCabe did not mislead investigators, but the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility claimed that he did and used that false claim to recommend he be fired. It’s all part of a Trump conspiracy. And I’m Napoleon. https://t.co/yQXqelhUMy
— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 17, 2018