Deputy FBI Director Steps Down after Quarrels with the President
On Monday, January 29th, Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe vacated his post unexpectedly after months of receiving pressure from President Donald Trump. The move came as a surprise to many high-level figures within the intelligence community, as it had widely been expected that Mr. McCabe was planning to retire in mid-March.
The departure of the deputy director is another development in the ongoing feud between President Trump and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Trump has attacked the intelligence organization many times over its investigation into his Campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. Mr. McCabe quickly became one of President Trump’s favorite targets after his questionable handling of the case.
Mr. McCabe first drew the ire of the President after a report by the Wall Street Journal detailed how his wife received over 400,000 dollars in donations from Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe during her failed run for a seat in Virginia’s State Senate. Governor McAuliffe is a longtime supporter and friend of the Clinton family, which quickly caused the suspicion of the President.
Despite his wife’s indirect ties to the Clintons, Mr. McCabe did not recuse himself in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. His decision to not withdraw from the case was criticized not only by President Trump, but by many in the intelligence community. The official statement by the F.B.I. claimed that Mr. McCabe had no involvement in his wife’s campaign, but numerous officials, including President Trump, were not convinced.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Trump, in a meeting with the Deputy Director, asked who he voted for in the 2016 Presidential Election. Though Mr. Trump has denied these accusations, the situation appears to be very similar to when he asked former F.B.I Director James Comey for loyalty earlier in the year.
So far, the Trump administration has yet to comment on the departure of Mr. McCabe except to say that Trump, “didn't play a role in any of the process.”
Mr. McCabe is the latest senior F.B.I. official to fall due to pressure from Mr. Trump. His departure marks a damaging trend for the organization, where numerous high-level figures have been pushed out due to fundamental disagreements with the President. F.B.I. Director James Comey was the earliest of these figures and may have helped to jumpstart the enmity between the President and the intelligence organization.
Deputy Director McCabe is unlikely to be the last casualty of the President’s anger in the coming months, especially as the Trump administration is planning to release highly classified documents which accuse the F.B.I. of mishandling the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. If serious revelations are revealed by the documents, the F.B.I. may face intense scrutiny and criticism.