Washington, Mar 17 (Just News): Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Friday he fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe effective immediately-just days before his retirement benefits would have set in.
McCabe, who abruptly announced his intention to resign in January, was fired from the agency in the midst of a review into the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State.
Sessions, in a statement, said McCabe's firing was the result of an "extensive and fair" probe of alleged misconduct, which concluded that he had made "an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions."
"The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability," Sessions said.
President Trump applauded Sessions' decision early Saturday, calling it "a great day for democracy."
"Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI," Trump said on Twitter, adding: "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!"
Details of the investigation have yet to be released, but are reportedly centered on communications with journalists about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The report is due out any day and is expected to sharply criticize the bureau and McCabe.
McCabe, who rose through the counter-terrorism and national security ranks, served as the agency's acting director this summer after Trump fired former director James Comey in May.
His accumulated leave time would have allowed him qualify for retirement this month with full benefits.
The White House is denying any involvement with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepping down from his position ahead of a previously planned retirement this spring. (Jan. 29) AP
He was a frequent target of Trump, who blamed him for not criminally charging Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server when she was secretary of State.
In response to accusations that McCabe exerted undue or partisan influence over the probe, the FBI has maintained McCabe had no personal conflicts, as he did not oversee that inquiry while his wife Jill McCabe was running for state office in Virginia as a Democrat.
In a statement, McCabe said he was 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.”
McCabe told the New York Times that his firing was intended to undermine the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
He called the move "incredibly unfair to my reputation."
"The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he told the Times. “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”
FBI Agents Association President Thomas O’Connor said the group “does not comment on personnel matters,” but is committed to ensuring that members are adequately protected.
“The FBIAA also strongly believes that personnel decisions should never be politicized,” said O’Connor who did not directly reference Sessions’ decision.
The president's fixation on McCabe's personal political leanings were apparent soon after he was named acting FBI director when Trump pointedly asked McCabe in his initial interview at the White House who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe, according to an official with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to comment publicly, told Trump that he did not vote.
Trump's repeated public references to McCabe, in tweets and public statements subsequently, has helped feed suspicion among an ultra-conservative wing of House Republicans that the FBI was biased against the Trump administration.
Rex Tillerson, outgoing US Secretary of State arrives to makes a statement after his dismissal at the State Department in Washington, DC, March 13, 2018. SAUL LOEB, AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Yet Trump's unusual questions about McCabe's political leanings and personal attacks also form another potential data point in the ongoing investigation into whether the president tried to obstruct justice in the federal probe into Russia's election interference and possible collusion with Trump associates.
One official said Monday that McCabe — like his predecessor Comey — likely documented his encounters with Trump and may have maintained similarly detailed notes.
In memos that Comey has since turned over to federal prosecutors, the former director alleged that Trump last year urged him to drop the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and requested a pledge of loyalty. The memos are now part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice.
McCabe's January announcement was welcomed at the at the White House where Trump had said that McCabe is "racing the clock to retire with full benefits." White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said the president was not involved in McCabe's departure.
"The only thing the President has been applying pressure to was to make sure we get this (Russia investigation) resolved so that you guys and everyone else can focus on the things that Americans actually care about," Sanders said then. "And that is making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all."
Sessions’ announcement comes as his own tenure has been called into question by the president, who has criticized the attorney general for recusing himself from overseeing the inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and for not removing McCabe after taking office as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Even before McCabe’s January announcement that he was stepping down, Trump had trolled the former deputy FBI director on Twitter urging the Justice Department to take action against McCabe.-USA Today