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Lengel: Whatever the Case, The Optics Stink When It Comes To The Firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Was justice done with the last minute firing of ex-FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe?

I say no.

The public still isn’t clear about all the reasons behind it,  though the White House or some other people leaked a limited amount of damaging info. They said McCabe leaked information to the Wall Street Journal about the probe into Hillary Clinton and the family foundation,  then allegedly was guilty of  “lack of candor” when questioned about it. Lack of candor in the FBI is often an accusation that ends badly for the accused.

We don’t know much more.

Whatever the case, the optics stink.

McCabe had stepped aside in late January, before his March retirement date. He and FBI Director Christopher Wray and other top FBI officials knew the Inspector General’s report was in the works, and the final product wasn’t going to be favorable to McCabe or the bureau.

Ordinarily, McCabe stepping aside might have been enough to satisfy. But it was clear the White House wanted him beheaded, even if it meant doing so days before his official retirement and days before he would become eligible to collect a pension.

Did McCabe do something wrong? Officials obviously say yes. And in fact, that may be the case. We haven’t seen the report.

But McCabe says no, writing in an Op-ed piece in the Washington Post: “I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators….I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them.”

Even if McCabe did wrong, the way this has all been handled is wrong.

Normally, under such circumstances, an agent or official accused of wrongdoing internally would be given weeks, if not months, to prepare a rebuttal to defend themselves.

That wasn’t done in this case. It was days — barely, just to make sure he didn’t cross the finish line with full pension in hand.

Director Wray insists everything is being done by the book in the bureau, and that politics was not involved in the decision involving McCabe.

Christopher Wray (File photo)

Let’s be frank.

First off, you don’t think there was pressure from President Donald Trump to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions fire McCabe? If Wray seriously doesn’t think that’s the case, perhaps we need a sharper FBI director.

Secondly, while Michael E. Horwowitz, the Justice Department’s Inspector General since 2012, enjoys a reputation in some circles as being totally impartial, not everyone agrees. Some privately say he’s very political and tries to tailor his reports to what some insiders in the Beltway want.

Then there’s Attorney General Sessions, who told Congress he would recuse himself of anything to do with the Clinton investigation. And here he is, firing McCabe for something tied to that probe.

Not everyone loved McCabe. Known as being sharp, intelligent and ambitious, some also thought he could be arrogant. I’m also told some agents were happy to see him get the ax. But he also had his fans.

Whatever the case, I have a suggestion.

People who think this mess was handled properly need to stand outside the Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania NW, look at the sign and take notice of the word “Justice.”

It’s not just a word. It really does mean something.

 


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