The “Friday night news dump” of things the White House wants to delay media scrutiny of until the following week has been raised to an art form in the Trump administration. It has become a Friday night “wheel of fortune” to see which member of the administration is being fired or replaced this Friday.
Prior to Friday night, the breaking news story was retired four-star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey slamming President Donald Trump as a “serious threat to U.S. national security” for his failure to protect the nation from “active Russian attacks.” McCaffrey accused Trump in a tweet Friday of being “under the sway” of Russian President Vladimir Putin” for some “unknown reason.”
That lede got buried when Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who is supposed to be recused from anything to do with the Russia investigation, fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe only 48 hours before he was set to retire, something President Trump had foreshadowed he would do out of spite back in December.
Deputy Director McCabe was in charge of the FBI’s Russia investigation for a period of time, and he is a key fact witness in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the obstruction of justice portion of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sessions has clearly violated his recusal, signaling his willingness to do it again for others at the request of “Dear Leader.”
Sessions short-circuited the normal review process in federal personnel matters in order to carry out the petty vindictiveness of “Dear Leader.” He relied on an Inspector General report and a FBI report that have not yet been made public. Andrew McCabe, a Target of Trump’s F.B.I. Scorn, Is Fired Over Candor Questions:
Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director and a frequent target of President Trump’s scorn, was fired Friday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend.
Mr. McCabe is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between F.B.I. officials and a journalist.
In a statement released late Friday, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. McCabe had shown a lack of candor under oath on multiple occasions.
“The F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
F.B.I. disciplinary officials recommended his dismissal. Mr. McCabe, who stepped down in January and took a leave of absence, denied the accusation and appealed this week to senior career officials in the Justice Department.
Lack of candor is a fireable offense at the F.B.I., but Mr. McCabe’s last-minute dismissal was carried out against a highly politicized backdrop.
The irony here is clear: Jeff Sessions has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of candor (lied) in sworn testimony to Congress about his contacts with the Russians – the very reason for his recusal – and as of March 1, 2018, President Trump had made 2,436 false or misleading claims according to a running tally being kept by the Washington Post. Trump averages more than 5.6 false or misleading claims a day, so you can add at least another 100 lies to that tally as of today.
Mr. McCabe was among the first at the F.B.I. to scrutinize possible Trump campaign ties to Russia. And he is a potential witness to the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice. Mr. Trump has taunted Mr. McCabe both publicly and privately, and Republican allies have cast him as the center of a “deep state” effort to undermine the Trump presidency.
As a witness, Mr. McCabe would be in a position to corroborate the testimony of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who kept contemporaneous notes on his conversations with Mr. Trump. Mr. Comey said Mr. Trump prodded him to publicly exonerate the president on the question of Russian collusion and encouraged him to shut down an investigation into his national security adviser.
* * *
Mr. McCabe, a 21-year F.B.I. veteran, was eligible for a government pension if he retired on Sunday. The firing jeopardizes that benefit, though it was not immediately clear how much he might lose.
McCabe angrily responded in a statement to his late Friday night firing. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s fiery statement about Sessions’s decision to fire him:
Andrew McCabe’s full statement:
I have been an FBI Special Agent for over 21 years. I spent half of that time investigating Russian Organized Crime as a street agent and Supervisor in New York City. I have spent the second half of my career focusing on national security issues and protecting this country from terrorism. I served in some of the most challenging, demanding investigative and leadership roles in the FBI. And I was privileged to serve as Deputy Director during a particularly tough time.
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 it.
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. 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 has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, 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. 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.
Here is the reality: 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. 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. 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.
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.
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 fo 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.
I have unfailing faith in the men and women of the FBI and I am confident that their efforts to seek justice will not be deterred.
Our Twitter-troll-in-chief Celebrated McCabe’s Firing: ‘A Great Day For Democracy’:
[On Saturday], President Trump celebrated the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, just two days before McCabe was eligible for his pension, calling it a “great day for democracy.”
Andrew McCabe was defended by former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, in a tweet on Saturday. Former CIA Director John Brennan Blasts ‘Disgraced Demagogue’ Trump After McCabe Firing:
Former CIA Director John Brennan in an extraordinary attack branded President Donald Trump a “disgraced demagogue” in the wake of the firing of ex-deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.
Responding to the president, Brennan, who led the CIA under the Obama administration, tweeted:
Andrew McCabe, like former FBI Director James Comey (and any good lawyer), maintained contemporaneous notes of his conversations with President Trump to protect himself. Andrew McCabe, Fired F.B.I. Deputy, Is Said to Have Kept Memos on Trump. According to Axios.com, McCabe has met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and has turned over his memos detailing his interactions with President Trump, according to a source familiar with the exchange. Source: McCabe gave interview, memos to Mueller. It was previously reported, Mueller Almost Done With Obstruction Part of Trump Probe, Sources Say.
This is why Dear Leader’s shyster lawyer John Dowd Says Special Counsel Inquiry Should Be Ended:
The comments by [Trump’s] lawyer, John Dowd, were prompted by the firing late on Friday of the former deputy F.B.I. director Andrew G. McCabe. Mr. Dowd exhorted Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who oversees the special counsel, to end the inquiry and accused the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey of concocting a baseless investigation.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the F.B.I. Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier,” Mr. Dowd told The Daily Beast.
Still asserting this bullshit wingnut theory? The House Intelligence Committee heavily redacted Democratic memorandum (.pdf) rebutted Republican claims that top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials had abused their powers in spying on a former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. As Zach Beauchamp at Vox.com summed it up: The Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo tears it apart Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff brought receipts.
On Saturday evening, Trump for the first time posted a tweet that specifically mentioned the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Mr. Dowd, by contrast, did not name the special counsel in his statement, but the implication that he believed Mr. Mueller should be fired was unmistakable. Such a move could set off alarms among Republicans in Congress, who have largely stood by as the president repeatedly assailed the Justice Department and the F.B.I.
Mr. Dowd said at first that he was speaking on behalf of the president but later backed off that assertion. He did not elaborate on why he was calling for the end of the investigation, saying only: “Just end it on the merits in light of recent revelations.”
People close to the president were skeptical that Mr. Dowd was acting on his own. Mr. Trump has a history of using advisers to publicly test a message, giving him some distance from it. And Mr. Dowd’s comments came at a time when members of Mr. Trump’s legal team are jockeying to stay in his favor.
Hours later, the president echoed Mr. Dowd’s accusations of corruption in the theoretical “deep state” that Mr. Trump has long cast as a boogeyman working to undermine him … relying on the discredited Nunes Memo.
Mr. Dowd’s remarks about Mr. Mueller’s investigation represented an extraordinary shift in public strategy for the Trump legal team. Since taking over the case last summer, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have urged a strategy of restraint, in which the president avoids discussing Mr. Mueller or criticizing him, and the lawyers had done nothing publicly until now that could agitate the special counsel’s team.
The comments by both Mr. Trump and Mr. Dowd lent credence to Mr. McCabe’s assertion that the president sees his firing as directly tied into Mr. Mueller’s case. Mr. McCabe, who is a potential witness in the investigation, declared that his dismissal was an attempt to undermine it.
The Twitter-troll-in-chief was at it again this morning with his unhinged tweets.
Ezra Klein writes, Donald Trump’s corrupt firing of Andrew McCabe:
McCabe’s firing shows how Trump has corroded the operations of the American government. There are real questions about McCabe’s performance at the FBI. But there are even deeper questions about Trump’s public vendetta against McCabe, and the role Sessions played in his termination.
* * *
This, then, is part of the cost of Trump’s daily venality: even when his administration makes a decision that might be justifiable on its own terms, the process by which that decision was made cannot be trusted, and may indeed be a scandal in its own right.
And Congress continues to fail to hold Trump accountable for his actions.