FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — who’s been under harsh scrutiny from President Trump for months — submitted his resignation Monday after his superior proposed to demote him, according to a report.
McCabe has been expected to leave the bureau for weeks, but the abrupt Monday afternoon resignation stunned FBI officials and came just days after his boss, Director Christopher Wray, suggested demoting him over an upcoming inspector general report, sources told The New York Times.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the paper the IG report looks into actions taken by McCabe and other bureau officials during the campaign, when the FBI was probing both Hillary Clinton and the Trump camp’s ties to Russia.
The Trump administration had been pressing for McCabe’s ouster for months.
McCabe is using leave time to stay on the FBI payroll through March so he can collect his pension. McCabe, 49, was originally expected to stay at his post until this spring.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back against suggestions that President Trump had anything to do with McCabe’s ouster. Asked about how people should view Trump’s frequent Twitter tirades against McCabe, Sanders suggested the President is doing the public a favor.
“He’s making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all, that you are all reminded once again that there was no collusion,” Sanders told reporters, “and that we can move forward to focus on things like national security.”
In tweets and in private, Trump has fumed that McCabe was partial to Hillary Clinton because of campaign donations his wife received from Clinton allies during an unsuccessful Virginia state senate run in 2015.
McCabe is stepping down effective Monday.
Jill McCabe’s campaign received several hundred thousand dollars in contributions from the state Democratic Party and a fund tied to Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe, then governor of Virginia.
Trump taunted McCabe about his wife’s 2015 loss, suggesting in a phone call last May that he ask her how it feels to be a loser, NBC News reported Monday.
“OK, sir,” McCabe reportedly responded. Trump — who had phoned McCabe to vent about just fired ex-FBI Director James Comey — abruptly hung up.
In a message to FBI employees, Wray said McCabe would be retiring on March 18 and denied the move stemmed from political pressure. “I will not be swayed by political or other pressure in my decision-making,” Wray wrote.
McCabe joined the FBI in 1996 and rose to deputy director in February 2016, serving under Comey.
Trump has claimed Comey’s leadership left the FBI in “tatters.”
Also Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to declassify a widely disputed memo they wrote that claims the FBI improperly spied on the Trump campaign. They also voted to launch a probe into supposed political bias within the bureau.
McCabe reportedly considered ousted FBI Director James Comey an ally.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said the vote marked “a very sad day” and blasted the memo as a deliberate effort at undermining special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller is investigating whether Trump broke the law by firing Comey amid the ongoing probe into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
McCabe ran the FBI on an interim basis after Comey’s firing until Trump appointed Wray last August.
Comey honored his ex-deputy Monday night.
“Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on,” Comey tweeted. “I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.”
Donald Trump Jr. had a different take.
“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?” he tweeted.
With News Wire Services