McCabe firing roils Washington

The abrupt ouster of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe ignited a political firestorm in Washington on Saturday.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump MORE said he fired McCabe on Friday, alleging that the FBI's former No. 2 official had misled congressional investigators and leaked information to the press. 

But McCabe quickly pushed back on those claims. He said his firing, which came just two days before he was expected to retire, was a political maneuver intended to undermine the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump touted McCabe's firing on Saturday as a "great day for democracy," and suggested that the former FBI deputy director was corrupt and dishonest. He also cast the decision as a victory for the "men and women of the FBI."

"Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Graham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks The damning proof of innocence that FBI likely withheld in Russian probe MORE FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy," Trump tweeted. "Sanctimonious James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump says public can see Mueller report Anderson Cooper blasts Trump over McCain attacks: 'He's punching a person who is dead' Clyburn: Trump and family 'greatest threats to democracy' in lifetime MORE was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!"

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But McCabe's ouster prompted an outcry from Democrats, who pointed to the episode as the latest in what they say are Trump's efforts to discredit the FBI  and undercut federal law enforcement.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCitizens lose when partisans play politics with the federal judiciary Senate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Patrick Leahy sits at center of partisan judicial nominations MORE (D-Vt.), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Saturday for a hearing on the Trump administration's attacks on the FBI and Justice Department.

"I fear the damage being done to the FBI, and to our nation’s institutions more broadly, will far outlast any current crises unless we take decisive, bipartisan action," he wrote in a letter to the committee's chairman, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySeniors win big with Trump rebate rule  Klobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll MORE (R-Iowa).

Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellOn The Money: Liberal groups pressure Dems over Trump's tax returns | Top Trump economist says tax cuts powering economy | Trump Jr. slams Theresa May over Brexit delay | Watchdog warns of 'rosy' assumptions in Trump budget Liberal groups step up pressure on Dems to request Trump's tax returns Lawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay MORE (D-N.J.) accused Trump on Friday of trying to "vandalize our democracy," calling the move to dismiss McCabe just days before his retirement a "disgrace."

"McCabe's dismissal in the dead of night is a disgrace to this country and our law enforcement community. Every day they vandalize our democracy and harm our institutions, and @HouseGOP does nothing," he tweeted.

 

McCabe's firing also drew condemnation from former officials, most notably ousted FBI Director James Comey, who has come under particular criticism from Trump.

In a tweet on Saturday, Comey made no mention of McCabe, but said that he would soon tell the story of his firing, and that the American people would determine "who is honorable and who is not."

"Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon," he tweeted. "And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."

Comey was abruptly fired in May for what Sessions and his deputy Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Graham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks MORE said was his mishandling of the FBI's investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Trump's approval rating stable at 45 percent Kellyanne Conway: 'I think my gender helps me with the president' MORE's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of State. But Trump later suggested that it was the probe into Russian election meddling that prompted him to fire the former FBI director.

Since then, memos have surfaced detailing Comey's interactions with Trump. Those memos include allegations that Trump once asked the former FBI director for a loyalty pledge, and later pressed him to drop his agency's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

McCabe reportedly authored his own memos detailing his interactions with Trump. Axios reported Saturday that he had turned those documents over to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's team of investigators, and that they corroborate Comey's claims about his meetings with Trump.

Former CIA Director John Brennan also blasted Trump after McCabe's firing, warning the president that he will go down "as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history."

"When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you," Brennan wrote on Twitter.

 

Adding to the firestorm surrounding Trump on Saturday was a statement issued by John Dowd, a lawyer for the president, who called for Rosenstein to shut down Mueller's investigation. Dowd initially told the Daily Beast that the statement was issued on Trump's behalf, though he later reversed that claim, saying it was issued in a personal capacity.

Still, the mere prospect of the Trump administration ending Mueller's probe drew scrutiny. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Why we need to build gateway now MORE (D-N.Y.) warned of "severe consequences" if the investigation was shut down.

"The president, the administration, and his legal team must not take any steps to curtail, interfere with, or end the special counsel's investigation or there will be severe consequences from both Democrats and Republicans," Schumer said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, noted that "it's impossible to evaluate the merits" of McCabe's firing since the Justice Department's inspector general has not released the report that triggered the disciplinary process that resulted in the recommendation that he be fired.

However, he tweeted, "That it comes after the President urged the [Justice Department] to deprive McCabe of his pension, and after his testimony, gives the action an odious taint."