After months of grousing publicly about deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, Donald Trump finally got what he wanted today: McCabe, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, stepped down.
According to numerous reports, McCabe was forced to resign from his position by a widespread Republican campaign to cast doubts on his objectivity in overseeing the FBI’s Russian election-meddling investigation. McCabe had been planning to retire in March, and will officially leave the agency then.
McCabe’s reputation in the bureau was a “lawyer, not a tough guy,” until he publicly testified in Congress last year about former FBI director James Comey’s firing by Trump. “McCabe today is a figure of wide admiration for standing up for the bureau when it was under political attack,” Lawfare wrote in August.
And there are a few more reasons why Trump could not wait for him to go.
The fact that McCabe did not vote for him. When they met in May, Trump reportedly asked McCabe how he voted in the 2016 presidential election—an unusual and highly sensitive question for a president to ask of a career civil servant. McCabe did not vote in the election. The conversation about it, however, could become part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
His wife’s political career. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, a pediatrician, ran for state senate in Virginia in 2015 as a Democrat, pledging to “devote herself to ensuring that your interests come first. “
Andrew McCabe featured in her campaign materials, a situation that some Republicans have said could violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from endorsing political candidates.
Jill McCabe received a $675,000 campaign donation from the state’s Democratic party and a political action committee connected to Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
Trump has repeatedly lied about that donation in his public criticism on Twitter, saying Andrew had received the donation “from H for wife.” Those lies have been repeated by right-wing news outlets.
McCabe’s refusal to pledge his loyalty. McCabe has been targeted by right-wing media who characterize him as part of a “deep state” cabal of anti-Trump government employees in the US intelligence agencies. Pro-Trump talking heads wheeled out anti-McCabe talking points this past weekend. “The management layer, the seventh floor, is riddled through with Obama-era appointees who have politicized the agency,” Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump advisor, said on Fox News.
McCabe’s stepping down and the campaign against him raised alarm bells among former justice officials. McCabe is a “dedicated public servant who has served this country well,” former attorney general Eric Holder wrote on Twitter. “Bogus attacks on the FBI and DOJ to distract attention from a legitimate criminal inquiry does long term, unnecessary damage to these foundations of our government.”
During a press conference on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “The president wasn’t part of this decision-making process.”