If the recent firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has you scratching your head in confusion, you are not alone. Let me walk you through a few key points connected to this saga which might help in reducing confusion around this matter.
Late on the evening of March 16th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the recommendation of the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), issued a statement informing the public of the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The recommendation by OPR was triggered based on an internal FBI investigation being conducted by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. McCabe was a career employee of the FBI who assumed command over the agency shortly after the firing of then FBI Director James Comey.
After Trump fired Comey in May, Andrew McCabe was summoned to the White House to meet with Donald Trump. While there McCabe was asked by Trump who he voted for in the 2016 election. This was a question McCabe was not comfortable with and he told the President that he did not vote in the Presidential election. According to officials close to the matter, McCabe was also uncomfortable with the President’s expressions of anger over the fact that McCabe’s wife, a political figure, had taken political donations from Gov. Terry McAuliffe a close Clinton ally. Trump also spent time during the meeting complaining about the Russian investigation. I believe it was this meeting which served to permanently damaged McCabe’s relationship with Trump. Like with Comey’s meeting with Trump where the President demanded loyalty from the FBI Director, this meeting for McCabe served to elicit the same reaction. The only problem for both Comey and McCabe is that both men refused to pledge their loyalty to Donald Trump and both also refused to end the Trump/Russian investigation. As a result, both men were fired.
Inspector General’s Role
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s job at DOJ is to hold the organization accountable by investigating inappropriate conduct and other forms of illegal behavior. Every government institution has an inspector general’s office which is charged with keeping staff honest and maintaining organizational integrity.
Inspector General Investigation
Horowitz and his team have been conducting an ongoing investigation into the Clinton email case in an attempt to discover whether the FBI conducted an appropriate investigation and whether that investigation followed the norms of FBI protocol and procedures. During the 2016 Presidential election, the FBI had been running two investigations concurrently. Both investigations involved candidates which were running for President. Trump was being investigated for his campaign’s connection to the Russians and Hillary Clinton was being investigated for her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
At the time, both Republican and Democrats were voicing concerns about both investigations. At the same time Republicans were pushing the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation for a suspected “pay to play” scheme, which had been widely discredited. Due to complaints from both Republican and Democratic officials, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office opened an independent inquiry to determine how decisions were made leading up to the launching of both investigations and to verify that proper protocols were followed.
What many people don’t understand is that the OPR did not recommend McCabe’s termination based on the Russian investigation. That’s right, despite the President and his supporters attempting to link this firing to the Russian investigation, McCabe’s firing had nothing to do with this investigation. In fact, it had to do with the Hillary Clinton investigation. Interestingly enough, some could say that the thing which got McCabe terminated was something that actually helped Donald Trump win the election.
Allow me to explain… while the final Inspector General’s report has not yet been fully released, what has been shared with the public so far indicates that McCabe was terminated for allowing FBI agents to speak to the press during the 2016 Presidential Election, and then, not being truthful with IG investigators thereafter. If you recall, during the 2016 election, Republicans were pushing for the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation and to dig deeper into the Clinton family. At the time, McCabe felt pressure from both Democrats and Republicans – Dems wanted the FBI to wrap up their Clinton email investigation, and Rep wanted the FBI to open more investigations into Clinton. In an attempt to manage the narrative coming out of the FBI regarding all investigations, McCabe authorized two FBI agents to sit down with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on October 30, 2016. During the interview the agents complained that the Obama administration was placing pressure on the FBI to drop the Clinton Foundation investigation. The agents also informed the WSJ that the FBI was looking into new emails from the Clinton campaign which were found on one of Clinton’s staff computers.
McCabe is being fired for leaking information to the press. However, as he himself mentioned, the interviews were not leaked and in fact followed FBI protocol in using the FBI public affairs office to arrange the interviews. Also, it is clear that the information which was shared with the press actually helped Trump during the campaign. Therefore, the assertion from Trump that there was some conspiracy inside the FBI to hurt his administration is purely bogus! Furthermore, Trump and his legal team are being dishonest and are purposely attempting to mislead people by falsely connecting McCabe’s firing to the Russian investigation. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Saying that, one has to ask, if McCabe was fired for leaking information which helped Donald Trump win election, why then would Trump now want McCabe out? According to sources close to the situation, McCabe is reported to have memos which indicate that Trump had been pressuring the FBI to drop the Russian investigation. When McCabe refused to comply, like Comey, he was terminated. With all that said, at this point, the truth pertaining to this situation will only be revealed after the IG releases his full report and the Muller investigation is concluded. Stay tuned!