Andrew McCabe is now former FBI Deputy Director, according to NPR. It would have happened in a week anyway, as McCabe was set to retire next week after more than 20 years with the FBI, but his premature departure has prompted a series of questions on what drove the Justice Department to decide to fire him. Even by the standards set by Donald Trump’s presidency, it was a uniquely belligerent decision, and upon careful observation, it appears McCabe’s firing might bring more bad news for the president than good.
The former deputy had risen to the portfolio of being the Director of FBI in unusual circumstances to start with. It all came to pass after Trump decided to fire James Comey last May after the latter refused to pledge his loyalty to the president, a fact Comey was upfront about after his dismissal. In an interview published in Politico after McCabe was fired, he said that he had been expecting to be fired for a “long time,” walking with dread into his office every day, wondering if it would be his last.
“I literally walked into the building every day expecting that I would be removed from my position before the end of the day. And if that happened, I didn’t want anyone to be able to just walk away from the work that we had done.”
President Trump blasted Andrew McCabe after he was fired, calling him a “choirboy” to “sanctimonious James Comey,” adding that his departure was “a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI” and a “great day for democracy.” In his statement after the firing, McCabe did not hide his feelings about what he thought of the whole matter either, saying he was a political target because–just like Comey–he had refused to kill FBI’s investigation into alleged Trump campaign-Russian collusion.
“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.
“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.”
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says the Justice Department's decision to fire him just days before his retirement is part of the Trump administration's "war on the FBI." https://t.co/YEWteGoTxb pic.twitter.com/AWg8NTl3nl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 17, 2018
McCabe’s untimely firing has brought about even more scrutiny on President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after he was exposed for making false statements to Congress, according to Think Progress. Observers claim that contrary to Trump’s attempts to kill the investigation, the firing will allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to consolidate his case against the Trump campaign. Three talking points overwhelmingly arise because of this situation.
Jeff Sessions Stuck In A Nasty Pickle
To fire or not to fire, that was AG Sessions’ main dilemma. Sessions had recused himself from the FBI investigation into alleged Russian collusion, despite Trump reportedly him asking not to. Provided that McCabe was a possible witness in Mueller’s investigation, his firing will undoubtedly be interpreted by the Special Counsel as a classic case of witness tampering. Trump had pushed for his removal more than once publicly and had likely pressured Sessions to do so privately. This can be seen as nothing else but the president punishing McCabe for his role in the Clinton investigation and his “disloyalty.” According to Business Insider, Trump had also asked McCabe if he had voted for him in the presidential election, so if the president did push the Justice Department to fire him, it would represent a massive conflict of interest. If Trump pressured Sessions to fire McCabe, it is a smoking gun for possible obstruction of justice.
For Sessions, had he not complied with Andrew McCabe’s firing, it would have possibly led to his own firing by Trump. In that case, Trump would have probably wanted to replace him with someone who would be willing to interfere in Robert Mueller’s investigation. So it makes sense–howsoever unprecedented–for Sessions to have fired McCabe. But it is still a fall that Sessions may have to partake in, primarily because someone with the track record and seniority of McCabe is not just fired one week before his official retirement. This has led to many journalists concluding that McCabe was fired with the sole purpose of withholding his pension.
McCabe’s Firing Consolidates Robert Mueller’s Case
Contrary to the belief that McCabe’s firing would help president Trump kill the Russia investigation, it would now actually make Robert Mueller’s case stronger–something Andrew McCabe himself pointed out in his statement after the dismissal.
“It will likely be easy for Mueller’s prosecutors to now show that Sessions has engaged in witness tampering, and ironically that’s Jeff Sessions’ own fault: because he recused himself, it shows beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew he should be judicially disqualified from making decisions affecting the Russia investigation.”
How Did ‘Fox News’ Learn Of Andrew McCabe’s Firing In Advance?
In what can either be described as an unbelievable co-incidence or the result of illegal coordination, Fox News accidentally published news of Andrew McCabe’s firing two hours before he was fired. Even if we had to assume that media organizations have drafts ready in case of eventual departures, the recent aggressiveness of Fox News calling for Rod Rosenstein’s head just minutes after Mueller subpoenaed documents — courtesy of Think Progress — from the Trump Organization, “including some related to Russia,” has shown to us that White House (Trump’s lawyers) repeatedly leak(s) information to Fox. But in this case, the leaking did not come from the White House since it is the DOJ which fired McCabe. This suggests that the leak might have come from Sessions himself or someone very close to him, once again validating the point that the president might have been pressuring Jeff Sessions to fire him, which would be a clear case of obstruction of justice.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 16, 2018
The coming days and weeks will be significant in how this whole episode plays out, but Donald Trump’s administration appears on tenterhooks more than ever, and it could only be a matter of time before it all implodes and comes crumbling down in a heap of bones.