WASHINGTON — Just over a day before his scheduled retirement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, stripping the career FBI agent of a half-million-dollar pension.
In return, McCabe broke his silence and said he was “being singled out and treated this way” for what he witnessed and did after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.
“After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsiblity (OPR),” Sessions said in a statement tonight. “The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe. Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe 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. As the OPR proposal stated, ‘All FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand,'” he added. “Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
McCabe reportedly learned of his firing via press release.
In December, President Trump fired off a series of tweets against McCabe, a career FBI agent whose pediatrician wife ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia in 2015 and received donations from the Democratic Party and then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee. One of the tweets was, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”
The Washington Post reported the following month that in May, soon after Comey was fired, Trump was introduced to McCabe in an Oval Office meeting and asked the acting director who he voted for in 2016. McCabe reportedly told the president that he didn’t vote in the presidential election.
McCabe issued a lengthy statement noting his 21-year career as a special agent and his case experience, including investigating Russian organized crime.
“For the last year and a half, my family and I have been the targets of an unrelenting assault on our reputation and my service to this country. Articles too numerous to count have leveled every sort of false, defamatory and degrading allegation against us. The president’s tweets have amplified and exacerbated it all. He called for my firing. He called for me to be stripped of my pension after more than 20 years of service. And all along we have said nothing, never wanting to distract from the mission of the FBI by addressing the lies told and repeated about us,” he said. “No more.”
“The investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility. The investigation flows from my attempt to explain the FBI’s involvement and my supervision of investigations involving Hillary Clinton. I was being portrayed in the media over and over as a political partisan, accused of closing down investigations under political pressure. The FBI was portrayed as caving under that pressure, and making decisions for political rather than law enforcement purposes. Nothing was further from the truth,” McCabe added, underscoring the last sentence with an underline. “In fact, this entire investigation stems from my efforts, fully authorized under FBI rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau and to make it clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed.”
The OIG investigation, the former deputy director continued, focused on “information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor,” and “I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that.”
“It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the same type of exchange with the media that the deputy director oversees several times per week. In fact it was the same type of work that I continued to do under Director Wray, at his request,” McCabe said. “The investigation subsequently focused on who I talked to, when I talked to them, and so forth. During these inquiries, I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.”
“But looking at that in isolation completely misses the big picture. The big picture is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized, public servants are attacked, and people who are supposed to cherish and protect our institutions become instruments for damaging those institutions and people.”
McCabe said the “reality” behind “being singled out and treated this way” was “the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey.”
“The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the president. The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the administration, driven by the president himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn,” he said. “The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens. Thursday’s comments from the White House are just the latest example of this.”
At Thursday’s press briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if Trump thought McCabe should be fired before being able to collect his pension.
“That’s a determination that we would leave up to Attorney General Sessions, but we do think that it is well documented that he’s had some very troubling behavior and by most accounts, a bad actor, and should have some cause for concern,” Sanders replied.
McCabe called the “attack on my credibility” one part “of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.”
“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel’s work,” he added.
“I have always prided myself on serving my country with distinction and integrity, and I have always encouraged those around me to do the same. Just ask them. To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the misty of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was prevailed to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see.”
McCabe will be able to appeal his firing, and if he wins would see his pension reinstated.
In a statement, FBI Agents Association president Thomas O’Connor said the group “does not comment on personnel matters” but “remains fully committed to ensuring that every FBIAA member is provided appropriate procedural protections.”
“The FBIAA also strongly believes that personnel decisions should never be politicized,” O’Connor added.