This evening, Attorney Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe. Until recently, McCabe was the deputy director of the FBI. He stepped down from that position, but remained a Justice Department employee pending his retirement, which was set to take place this weekend.
The firing took place 26 hours before the retirement. It means McCabe will lose a significant portion of his pension.
McCabe promptly issued an angry statement. He claimed, among other things, that his dismissal was part of the Trump’s administration’s “ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation” and was the result of pressure from President Trump.
It seems likely that McCabe will seek legal redress. However, he may end of fighting on two legal fronts — criminal and civil. A prosecution for making false statements might well be in McCabe’s future.
As to the firing, it was recommended by the FBI office that handles discipline. The recommendation was based on findings by the DOJ’s inspector general investigation. The IG found that McCabe authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to the media about a Clinton-related case and then misled investigators about having done so.
If these findings are valid, they warrant firing. Unless McCabe can point to high level DOJ employees who were found to have engaged in similar misconduct but were not fired, I doubt he has much of a case (assuming, again, that the findings of misconduct are well-supported). That, at least, is my impression on first blush.
Trump’s anti-McCabe tweets, coupled with his public denunciations of Jeff Session, will enable McCabe to argue that Sessions’ motive was to please the president, and thus that the discharge decision is tainted. Not for the first time, Trump’s tweeting may have thrown a lifeline to his adversaries.
But if the discharge decision has a strong factual basis, if (as is the case) it was recommended to Sessions through normal DOJ channels, and if it’s consistent with past practice, then the decision seems just and proper, whatever Trump has tweeted. In these circumstances, it ought to be upheld.