National Security

McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the Justice Department and FBI over his termination from the bureau last year, arguing that his firing was a politically motivated move stemming from President Trump’s attacks against him and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials.

McCabe alleges in the lawsuit filed Thursday that Trump administration officials “responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018 — on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI.”

He claims that the actions have harmed his “reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits.”{mosads}

In the 48-page complaint, McCabe alleges that Trump was at the heart of his firing, saying the president “purposefully and intentionally caused the unlawful actions of Defendants … and other Executive Branch subordinates that led to Plaintiff’s demotion and purported termination.”

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him. Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme,” it reads.

McCabe is asking a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to find that “his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity,” or to award him with the retirement benefits he had planned on receiving as a former deputy director of the FBI.

The lawsuit comes just days after former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, another GOP target, sued the two agencies for what his counsel argued was a politically motivated firing, stating that it violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights, in addition to the Privacy Act.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired the No. 2 FBI official in March of last year, pointing to the findings of a DOJ watchdog that McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”

The firing also came just before McCabe would have been eligible for his pension, after more than 20 years at the bureau.

At the time, McCabe claimed his termination was part of an effort by Trump to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, claiming he could be a potential witness.

But McCabe’s dismissal came after an internal FBI office that handles disciplinary matters received a recommendation from DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz, who was investigating the Clinton email probe, that McCabe was not forthcoming during his review, which includes an investigation into a decision he made in 2016 to allow FBI officials to speak with reporters about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. 

Thursday’s lawsuit alleges that Trump’s actions and attempts to “discredit” the FBI and DOJ effectively forced agency officials’ hands in firing McCabe, pointing to Sessions, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Horowitz.

“Trump routinely made such threats and accusations against subordinate officials in order to induce their compliance with Trump’s desires, including but not limited to his desire for Plaintiff’s accelerated and unlawful termination,” the lawsuit reads, pointing to Trump “threatening to terminate Sessions and Rosenstein, and by accusing Sessions, Rosenstein, and Horowitz of disloyalty and/or bias.”

McCabe argues that out of a desire for loyalty, Trump sought multiple times to test his political allegiances, asking who he had voted for in 2016 and asking him about his wife’s decision to run as a Democratic candidate for the Virginia state senate in 2015. 

His wife, Jill McCabe, ultimately lost the race, but the suit argues that Trump perceived McCabe to be a Democrat as a result of his wife’s bid, even allegedly telling the FBI official he made “mistake” allowing his wife run for the seat.

McCabe’s involvement in the Russia investigation, he argues, also added to the perception Trump had about him, claiming Trump viewed DOJ and FBI employees’ work in support of the Russia investigation as “evidence of those employees’ affiliation with Trump’s partisan opponents in the Democratic Party.”

“Were it not for Trump’s plan and scheme and the complicity of Defendants and other Executive Branch subordinates, Plaintiff would have otherwise been permitted to retire as he had long planned,” the court document says.

McCabe also cited evidence that he claims proves that officials sought to dismiss him before his planned March 16 retirement date, therefore depriving him of his benefits.

He included a handwritten memo sent to Rosenstein and Deputy FBI Director David Browdich that cites McCabe’s upcoming retirement date as evidence of such an effort.

McCabe also alleges that he was never truly fired by the FBI, because the agency did not follow proper procedures in dismissing him. He said that means his retirement benefits, like his pension, are still intact.

And he further claims that the personal attacks by Trump and others have prevented him from pursuing other professional opportunities after leaving the FBI.

“As a result, Plaintiff’s unblemished reputation has been stigmatized with false charges including dishonesty, his prospects for future employment with the DOJ and FBI have been foreclosed, and his prospects for other future public and private employment in law enforcement and related professions have been hampered,” the complaint reads.

—Updated at 5:19 p.m.


Tags Andrew McCabe Department of Justice Donald Trump FBI Jeff Sessions Lawsuit McCabe firing Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein

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