Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, the Justice Department announced late Friday night.
"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," Sessions said in a statement.
McCabe, a career agent who briefly served as the acting director of the FBI after President Trump fired James Comey from the job last year, was scheduled to retire on Sunday after 21 years of working at the agency.
"I am 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 said in a statement. "This attack on my credibility is 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."
A spokesperson for McCabe wrote that McCabe learned of his firing "from a press release."
A source told BuzzFeed News on Saturday that McCabe had prepared personal memos detailing his interactions with President Trump, as well as what happened during the time period when the president fired former FBI director James Comey.
A little more than two hours after the news broke, Trump himself weighed in in a late-night tweet, calling the firing "[a] great day for Democracy."
President Trump had previously questioned why Sessions hadn't replaced McCabe in the FBI's leadership and has been harshly critical of McCabe — questioning his objectivity given campaign contributions his wife had gotten from former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime ally of the Clintons, during her unsuccessful Virginia state Senate campaign.
McCabe's firing, indirectly, came out of the Justice Department inspector general's investigation into the handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Communications from the inspector general’s office regarding McCabe's candor to investigators about a news report involving the Clinton Foundation prompted a disciplinary review from the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility initiated a disciplinary review. That review, in turn, resulted in a recommendation that McCabe be fired.
That led to further review from the top officials in the Justice Department, leading to Friday's decision from Sessions.
Full statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
When news of the Office of Professional Responsibility's recommendation broke earlier this week, DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said only, "The department follows a prescribed process by which an employee may be terminated. 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."
McCabe was a “career employee” — not a political appointee, who can be removed at will — and had substantial, though not absolute, job protection because of his high rank.
On Thursday, asked about the recommendation from the Office of Professional Responsibility that he be fired, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the decision was up to Sessions — but then added, "[W]e do think it is well documented that he has had some very troubling behavior and by most accounts a bad actor and should have some cause for concern."
President Trump's tweets about Andrew McCabe:
The firing could have severe ramifications for McCabe — whose pension could be affected as a result of the firing — as well as for the larger discussion of Trump’s attempts to influence the actions of the Justice Department.
The firing came at the end of a long career that spanned three decades at the FBI. McCabe joined the FBI in 1996, as a special agent assigned to the New York Field Office. A decade later, McCabe was promoted and moved to Washington, serving as a supervisor in the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI headquarters. Over the next decade, McCabe moved back and forth between increasingly senior jobs at the FBI's Washington Field Office and its headquarters, resulting in his promotion to deputy director of the FBI at the beginning of 2016.
Prior to his promotion, his wife, Jill, had run for a state Senate seat in Virginia in 2015. The funds that Trump and outside conservatives have criticized came from the Virginia Democratic Party and McAuliffe's political action committee. The campaign, which she lost, was over before McCabe was promoted to deputy director.
At the time of his wife's campaign, McCabe had no oversight of any Clinton investigation and recused himself from investigations relating to Virginia politics. After McCabe was promoted to the deputy director post, he oversaw the Clinton investigation until a report about the contributions in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election led him to recuse himself.
When Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017, McCabe served as acting director of the FBI and was interviewed by Trump as a possible candidate to be Comey's successor. He served as acting director until Trump's eventual nominee, current FBI director Chris Wray, was confirmed for the role and assumed office on Aug. 2, 2017.
At that time, McCabe returned to the deputy director job until the end of January, when he announced his retirement plans. Although he stepped down as deputy director, he remained on the department’s payroll pending his scheduled retirement.
Full statement from Andrew McCabe:
Chris Geidner is a Supreme Court correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Chris Geidner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.