Mar 14, 2018, 1:32 PM ET

FBI officials recommend former deputy director McCabe be fired, source says


Officials within the FBI have recommended that the agency’s embattled former deputy director, Andy McCabe, be fired, just days before he is set to officially leave government, according to a source with knowledge of the recommendation.

The recommendation from the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility came after an internal report by the Justice Department’s inspector general accused the FBI veteran of misleading investigators looking into an array of matters connected to the 2016 presidential campaign, the source said.

McCabe is worried that if he were to be fired in the next few days, before he is officially eligible for his retirement benefits, he could lose a full pension that he has built after nearly 22 years of public service, according to sources familiar with McCabe’s thinking.

McCabe never intentionally misled investigators and did his best to accurately address investigators’ questions, according to those sources.

Now, senior officials within the Justice Department, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will decide McCabe’s fate.

“The Department follows a prescribed process by which an employee may be terminated,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said Wednesday. “That process includes recommendations from career employees and no termination decision is final until the conclusion of that process. We have no personnel announcements at this time.”

For more than a year, the Justice Department’s inspector general has been looking into whether McCabe should have done more to shield certain investigations from potential conflicts of interest, and the inspector general’s office recently completed a draft report on McCabe.

PHOTO: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens on Capitol Hill, May 11, 2017, during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo, FILE
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens on Capitol Hill, May 11, 2017, during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S.

In the draft report, internal investigators conclude McCabe went too far in trying to push back against media reports questioning whether family ties to Democrats could impact his work, particularly when he authorized FBI officials to speak with a reporter about the agency’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation, according to a source familiar with the findings.

But the draft report takes particular issue with how forthcoming McCabe was when Justice Department officials asked him questions about his actions, according to the source.

Those close to McCabe insist he has been forthcoming with investigators.

McCabe “tried at every juncture to be as accurate and of course truthful” as he could, and he even “proactively reached out” to investigators to clarify any misunderstandings and make sure they had the most complete information from him, according to one source speaking in defense of McCabe.

The source insisted that McCabe never authorized “a leak” to a reporter and that discussions with a reporter about the Clinton Foundation probe were coordinated by an agency spokesman and an FBI attorney.

“It took place over the course of several days,” the source said. “So to be kind of retrospectively misrepresented as sort of a clandestine secretive leak is sort of … an unfair portrayal.”

President Donald Trump and his son have not been shy about weighing in on McCabe’s fate. Three months ago, after McCabe announced that he would be stepping down as the FBI’s deputy director but remain a government employee until retirement, President Donald Trump tweeted that McCabe was “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”

“So they will keep him on till then despite all this to make sure the American tax payer is stuck paying him for the rest of his life?” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

Federal law states that government employees can lose their pension and benefits if convicted of a federal crime – there is no indication McCabe could face any charges for his actions.

Nevertheless, even some of those who have been convicted of lying to federal authorities or other offenses were able to retain their pensions.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to authorities about his contacts with a Russian official, has been able to retain the pension he accrued from 33 years of military service.

Similarly, in 2015, after former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus admitted to giving his mistress classified information and then lying to FBI agents about it, Petraeus was able to retain his pension, which reportedly pays him $208,000 a year.

McCabe first joined the FBI in 1996, investigating organized crime cases in New York. Over the next several years, he shifted his focus to rooting out international terrorists, and in 2012 he became the head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division at headquarters in Washington.

In October 2013, McCabe took over the FBI’s entire national security branch, and the next year he moved to become the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. He then rejoined the ranks at FBI headquarters, becoming the deputy director in February 2016.

Over the past year, McCabe has become a frequent target of criticism from Trump and Republican lawmakers, who allege that McCabe’s time at the top of the FBI was emblematic of political bias in the FBI’s law enforcement work.

In particular, McCabe came under fire for what Republicans claimed were conflicts of interest because his wife ran for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat in 2015 while the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

At the time his wife was running for election, McCabe was the head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Emails and correspondence released by the FBI show McCabe recused himself from any public corruption cases tied to Virginia. And according to the FBI documents, McCabe had no oversight of the Clinton matter until he became deputy director in February 2016, three months after his wife lost her election bid.

Still, in October 2016, the Wall Street Journal published at least one article that called into question McCabe’s ability to fairly oversee the federal probe of the Clinton Foundation. Ahead of the story’s publication, McCabe authorized an FBI spokesman to speak with the Wall Street Journal about efforts to keep the Clinton Foundation investigation moving forward, the source familiar with the inspector general’s findings told ABC News.

Days after the Wall Street Journal story was published, McCabe recused himself from the Clinton matter.

In December, FBI director Chris Wray defended McCabe, telling lawmakers he would “quarrel” with suggestions that McCabe has expressed any sort of political bias.

“I'm not aware of any senior FBI executives who are allowing improper political considerations to affect their work with me right now,” Wray told the House Judiciary Committee.

Nevertheless, three months ago the FBI announced McCabe would be vacating his post as deputy director, and he would be relying on vacation days he had accumulated to carry him to his official retirement.

News - FBI officials recommend former deputy director McCabe be fired, source says

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  • Colin Gilman

    1. Did McCabe recuse himself when his wife received a substantial donation to her political campaign (as a Democrat)?

    2. According to the record, what is the standard DOJ-imposed punishment for not recusing oneself under such circumstances?

    3. Mainstream media recently reported that it was alleged that there were certain and unspecified omissions in the testimony he gave to the investigators
    regarding his ordering an official speaker to interview a reporter regarding the Clinton Foundation. What exactly are the omissions that seemed to have upset both the President and Mr. Sessions so much?

    4. Again it seems absolutely fishy that after 22 years of dedicated service, AND after having received an indirect waiver of support from the FBI Director himself, ( and I semiquote > ' I would quarrel with the suggestion that anyone in the current group of executives working with me has been particularly "partisan" ' ).

    While, clearly that statement of Mr. Wray's seems to lack any sort of enthusiasm or specificity (and as such does NOT SEEM notably very strong), it is nevertheless a general affirmation for the lawful record, which should be taken at face value.

    In the opposite sense, that statement appears as legitimate --albeit informal -- testimony as to the qualities, and overall competence, dedication and fortitude of Mr. McCabe.

    22 years-- may I remind the reader -- is over the not one but more than 2 separate executive branch administrations. McCabe served under both a Republican and a Democrat.

    This fact would seem another piece of evidence denying the contention being made that Mr. McCabe mishandled the Clinton's Foundation issue and recusing himself too late.

    Note that he continued to serve our Country for 22 years without any "bad actor" labels ever being made public.

    If there is --indeed -- this so called "track record" of poor choices, by Mr McCabe then why wasn't Mr. McCabe fired along time ago?
    The least that should be done is for Congress to see the record, and --if absolutely necessary -- paraphrase it for the public.
    Then it's key findings should be released directly to the public.

    In Conclusion

    1) What could possibly have motivated Mr McCabe to act in such a brazen and haphazard way so as to bring shame and discredit upon the FBI?

    2) It makes no logical or common sense that someone with his caliber, would knowingly, willfully (and suddenly) do anything to hurt the very nation he proved he loved.

    3) The General Public deserves a better explanation

    4) Am I crazy or was Mr. McCabe wrongfully smeared?

    It behooves the Whitehouse to come out with more facts in order to prove to the public that a quality Human Resource decision was in fact made and why it was made in such a callous manner.

    Let both sides prove they aren't partisan.

    I think it would be good, right and natural for the media consuming public to expect the record to be opened and to substantiate the ethics claims agisnt MrMCaCabe directly --using language which could not be misinterpreted or labeled ambiguously.

    In short the circumstances revolving around this matter are (or seem) rather suspicious especially in appearing rather partisan in nature.

    It therefore, behooves those involved in the decision to fire Mr McCabe, to be as transparent about their decision making process as possible. We The Public deserve that much.

    Let us all note, that what happened is reasonably well within the duties and rights of the Bureau. This much may in fact be quite reasonable. What we want are the details to substantiate the choice to terminate Mr McCabe. There are limits of classifying it a "national security issue". No mention of any sort of classification has been made in the mass media its status as confidential must be at least be questioned (if not challenged in court).

    Until a higher security classification exists, the importance of the rules of fairness and the need for Public Access to Good Government should overrule the tradition of confidentiality of such employee files. Maybe Mr McCabe could sign off on opening up this file? Or does he also not have any access to it?

    While there are reasons behind keeping such files confidential, this set of circumstances is special. Why? Because it directly relates to an investigation that has not yet been declared "over". (an investigation which may never show collusion but one which is important for a variety of other reasons as well as vindicating the President (if in fact that is to be the case).
    Even members of the GOP have indicated that they want to see this investigation to be seen to it's logical end, and without any further wasting of time or the tax payer's money.

    Of course, the reinforcing reason for this particular argument is the fact that these employees are all employed of, for and by the public domain. In fact, the DOJ is --after all--a public entity.

    Thus, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the public has a fundamental Right To Information regarding the "Whys" and "Hows" of what would inevitably become Mr McCabe's Termination proceedings. --with 22 years of Public Service--was fired --and moreover -- in the most insulting way --(only 2 days before retirement after 22 years). The man made it that far in a very complex bureaucracy. Doesn't the Public have a right to know why he would jeopardize --not only his hard earned legacy but also his financial retirement as well?

    To me, that would seem like a fairly severe punishment, which would be theoretically equal to a dishonorable discharge. (i.e. awfully lot to be concerned about).

    Lets let the public have a look and have a discussion about the criteria used against Mr McCabe.

    That someone intelligent enough to have risen to the ranks to Deputy Director would in any logical way do something that would deny himself a pension and a legacy is beyond illogical and ventures into the realm of the absurd.

    At the very least the public ought to see that the record of punishments dolled out for this or similar offenses in the past and be certain that in fact it is commensurate with that imposed on Mr McCabe.

  • Luane Conn

    These goofy Trump haters haven't figured out it is time for the rats to jump off the ship. I've got my popcorn ready, this is the show I have been waiting for.

  • stealthdan

    The transcripts used to entrap Flynn were useless anyway as the investigating body (FBI) determined Flynn never lied to them. Muller choose to financially harangue Flynn via inexhaustible legal funding and threatened his family to get Flynn sign the fake guilty plea. Muller (and several Congressmen as well as this judge) knew Flynn was innocent and they allowed him to be ruined simply because they are obsessed with defeating the President of the United States. Talk about a slew of sleaze that needs to be taken to jail! We are going to need an 18 wheeler to drive around to round up these Obama plants and criminals.

  • greggreen29

    Flynn has lost his house to pay for the legal bills caused by lying to a investigator over a legal meeting with the Russians. Same should happen to McCabe, and Abedin and Mills for lying to investigators about Hilary’s illegal server.

    Will there be justice for all or justice only against republicans?

  • James Bryson

    How many felonies did McCabe commit in the fake Hillary-email non-investigation?

    How compromised was McCabe for sending his FBI resume to Clinton Foundation Board Member, McAuliffe, while McAuilffe was sending $700,000. to McCabes wife?

    How many felonious indiscretions did McCabe commit with Strzok and Page in misusing his position to threaten/attack a duly elected president?

    A hard rain is gonna fall.

  • anton mark

    Andrew Mccabe must be fired because he is a Judas Iscariot

  • Geoffrey Hewitt

    crook louis Lerner from IRS collecting 100 k per year in pension and living in a million dollar home after committing fraud ; pension supported by taxpayer money who have difficulty making ends meet but she could receive 3 million in benefits; THE SWAMP NEEDS CLEANING OUT

  • concernedvoter

    Seems Trump has a fetish with Firing people while they are away on duty to futher humiliate them. He wants to leave these people out at remote locations with no way of getting home?? Then Rants because they got trasportion back home?? Who does this Orange Imbecile believe he is? Caligula?

  • Bev Guyer

    Talk about a witch hunt. McCabe has been a public servant for 22 years and has an impeccable record. Trump doesn't understand that some people are honest and have integrity - neither quality Trump possesses.

  • Emu Cat

    Do what the FBI says, they need to clean their swamp and show that they are not as corrupt as they appear this past ten years with the Democrats in control. FIRE HIM.

  • whitepine

    A little late since he is to retire Friday. Does this make any sense or is it just to cheat him out if his retirement. Sorry, but he earned his retirement.

  • Robin

    This is all Trump...He is a heartless, cruel, Vindictive, cowardly wanna be dictator...He wants McCabe fired because he contradicted Trumps assertion that the FBI rank and file didn't like Comey. McCabe, when asked by a Senate investigation panel about this assertion, said that it isn't accurate. How freaking petty for Trump to push for his firing and having his pension taken away as punishment for disagreeing with him.

  • John X

    McCabe already has 20+ plus years in with the gov...earned and vested. Won't he get almost all of his pension?

  • GarfieldRocks

    Here's what we should do. Buy Donald a house right next door to Cheney. Dicky can improve his shooting techniques and Donnie can lob golf balls at Dickys windows.

  • Paulie

    Yeah, boy - show those civil servants that if they step out of line you'll take away their retirement benefits - surely that'll ensure that the best and brightest will want to work in government.