By Josh Cropanzano || Staff Writer
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired on March 16th, 2018 just 26 hours before his retirement on the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This retirement was set to coincide with his 50th birthday, which would have allowed him to seek early retirement benefits including a lucrative pension. This termination came after the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, concluded that McCabe misled investigators looking into how federal officials were handling matters relating to the 2016 campaign. In particular, the inspector general concluded that McCabe inappropriately allowed top officials to speak to reporters about his decision to open an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. This event was under investigation as part of a larger investigation into the actions of the FBI and Department of Justice during the 2016 election. Michael Horowitz has served as Inspector General of the Department of Justice since his appointment by President Obama in 2012. Andrew McCabe had served as acting director of the FBI from May 9th to August 7th of last year following President Trump’s removal of James Comey.
Andrew McCabe immediately alleged that the termination was politically motivated. However, the newly appointed FBI Director, Christopher Wray, appeared content with the removal process. During an interview with NBC, Director Wray stated, “I want to be careful about what I can say about the process, but I will tell you that my commitment to making sure that our process is followed, that it relies on objective input, and that most importantly, it is not based on political or partisan influence is something I am utterly unyielding on.” Wray assumed the position of FBI director on August 2nd, 2017 after the previous director, James Comey, was dismissed by Trump. Christopher Wray had previously served as Chris Christie’s personal attorney during his infamous ‘Bridgegate’ scandal. In contrast, President Trump applauded the termination, tweeting, “Andrew McCabe FIRED… 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!” These comments appear to show that, even if a partisan bias was not present in the decision to terminate McCabe, his removal is something of a win in the eyes of Donald Trump.
Many have concurred with McCabe in labeling the move as politically motivated. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) called the move “vindictive” and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), who serves on the Senate judiciary and intelligence committees, called on Sessions to testify before Congress to determine whether or not the termination of McCabe was retaliatory. James Comey testified last year that he believed his own termination was politically motivated. The calls for inquiry by the Senate are paralleled by inquiries by the House of Representatives. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, subpoenaed the Department of Justice for documents related to the McCabe firing, as well as the Clinton investigation after voicing his frustruction with the DoJ’s poor cooperation with Congressional inquiry.
Nearly a year ago, McCabe oversaw an investigation into whether or not Sessions “lacked candor” when he testified before Congress. When testifying, he stated that he had not contacted any member of the Russian government to discuss the campaign but neglected to mention that he had previously met with the Russian ambassador twice. Sessions argues that he did not discuss the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador, but many argue that, in light of evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, this meeting should have prohibited him from becoming attorney general or that he should have at least informed Congress about the contact during the hearings. One anonymous source said to ABC that Sessions was not aware of this investigation before firing McCabe, but the authenticity of this comment is not known and an attorney representing Sessions declined to comment. McCabe authorized this investigation after Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and then-Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) wrote to the FBI and urged them to investigate all of Sessions’ contacts with Russian agents.
Sophomore Josh Cropanzano is a staff writer. His email is email@example.com.