FBI’s No. 2, a Trump target, decides to quit

January 30, 2018
Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, is stepping down after President Donald Trump accused him of being a Democratic partisan, a government source confirmed on Monday.

McCabe is stopping work immediately but will remain on the FBI payroll until March to obtain retirement benefits, the source confirmed.

McCabe, 49, was expected to leave sometime early this year when he became fully eligible for a pension, after two decades in the bureau.

The New York Times reported that McCabe had hoped to stay active in his position up to his retirement, but was pressured to leave earlier by FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Wray, who was appointed by Trump in August, had not intended to include McCabe on his revamped management team, according to the report. McCabe was a career FBI official, not a political appointee.

The FBI had no official comment. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had no role in the move.

“The president wasn’t part of this decision-making process,” Sanders said.

The early departure comes after McCabe endured months of tough criticism from Republicans for his loyalty to fired FBI director James Comey and alleged bias against Trump.

Comey himself praised McCabe’s FBI service, saying he “stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on.”

“I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you,” Comey added in a tweet.

McCabe and Comey had key roles in the FBI’s probe of Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, which ultimately cleared the Democrat of criminal wrongdoing in her misuse of a personal email server while she was secretary of state.

The president has repeatedly assailed that decision as wrong, and recently released text messages between two investigators involved in the Clinton probe that showed them strongly opposed to Trump.

An FBI inspector general is currently investigating the handling of the Clinton case.

McCabe and Comey were also involved in the initial stages of an ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the election, which Trump calls “fake news.”

Angered by that investigation, Trump fired Comey on May 9.

CIA director Mike Pompeo told the BBC in an interview aired Monday that he expects Russia to try to meddle in the US congressional election in November of this year.

“I haven’t seen a significant decrease in their activity,” Pompeo said. “I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that.”

McCabe became acting FBI director and days later, in testimony to Congress, he rebutted Trump’s claim that Comey had left the bureau “in turmoil” and had lost the confidence of the FBI staff.

Comey “enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does,” McCabe said.

Accusations of bias also arose from McCabe’s wife having run as a Democrat for local Virginia political office as a Democrat in 2015, receiving financial support from the party.

In July 2017, Trump questioned why Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not dismiss him.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives,” he wrote on Twitter. — AFP

January 30, 2018
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