After former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a move that President Donald Trump lauded as a "good day" but McCabe slammed as part of the administration's "war on the FBI," it was revealed that McCabe kept memos on his interactions with the president and handed the notes over to the special counsel.
The dismissal Friday was made on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials. An upcoming inspector general's report is expected to conclude that McCabe authorized the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
"The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability," Sessions said in a statement.
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McCabe said his credibility had been attacked as "part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally" but also the FBI and law enforcement.
"It is part of this administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day," he added, referring to Robert Mueller's probe into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. "Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel's work."
McCabe asserted he was singled out because of the "role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey," whom Trump fired as FBI director last May.
And McCabe's attorney, Michael Bromwich, railed against the administration and Trump's "offensive, drive-by Twitter attacks" on his client. "It should make all federal government employees, who continue to work in an Administration that insults, debases, and abuses them, shudder in the knowledge that they could be next," Bromwich said in a statement.
Mueller is investigating whether Trump's actions, including Comey's ouster, constitute obstruction of justice. McCabe, a Comey confidant, could be an important witness.
McCabe said the release of the findings against him was accelerated after he told congressional officials that he could corroborate Comey's accounts of Comey's conversations with the president.
And on Saturday, NBC News reported that McCabe too kept personal memos regarding President Donald Trump and turned them over to Mueller's team. NBC News tweeted that, according to a source familiar with the situation, McCabe turned them over “some time ago."
According to the AP, McCabe's memos include details of his own interactions with the president and recount different conversations he had with Comey. Though the precise contents are unknown, the memos possibly could help substantiate McCabe's assertion that he was unfairly maligned by the White House. They almost certainly contain, as Comey's memos did, previously undisclosed details about encounters between the Trump administration and FBI that could be of interest to Mueller.
McCabe spent more than 20 years as a career FBI official and played key roles in some of the bureau's most recent significant investigations. Trump repeatedly condemned him over the past year as emblematic of an FBI leadership he contends is biased against his administration.
In a tweet early Saturday, Trump said it was "a great day for Democracy" and "a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI." He asserted without elaboration that McCabe "knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI."
In subsequent tweets, he continued to assert there was "no collusion" and slam the FBI, State Department and Justice Department for the "tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels."
He added: "The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!"
Comey responded to Trump in a Saturday tweet, writing, "Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."
The president's tweets also sent former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, into a Twitter tizzy: "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."
McCabe had been on leave from the FBI since January, when he abruptly left the deputy director position. He had planned to retire on Sunday, and the dismissal probably jeopardizes his ability to collect his full pension benefits. His removal could add to the turmoil that has enveloped the FBI since Comey's firing and as the FBI continues its Trump campaign investigation that the White House has dismissed as a hoax.
The firing arises from an inspector general review into how the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation. That inquiry focused not only on specific decisions made by FBI leadership but also on news media leaks.
McCabe came under scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated. The watchdog office has concluded that McCabe authorized FBI officials to speak to a Wall Street Journal reporter for that story and that McCabe had not been forthcoming with investigators. McCabe denies it.
In his statement, McCabe said he had the authority to share information with journalists through the public affairs office, a practice he said was common and continued under the current FBI director, Christopher Wray. McCabe said he honestly answered questions about whom he had spoken to and when, and that when he thought his answers were misunderstood, he contacted investigators to correct them.
The media outreach came at a time when McCabe said he was facing public accusations of partisanship and followed reports that his wife, during a run for the state Senate in Virginia, had received campaign contributions from a Clinton ally. McCabe suggested in his statement that he was trying to "set the record straight" about the FBI's independence against the background of those allegations.
Despite his defense, officials at the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended the firing, leaving Justice Department leaders in a difficult situation. Sessions, whose job status has for months appeared shaky under his own blistering criticism from Trump, risked inflaming the White House if he decided against firing McCabe. But a decision to dismiss McCabe days before his retirement nonetheless carried the risk of angering his rank-and-file supporters at the FBI.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte applauded McCabe's firing and the timing of the decision, saying in a statement that his "actions have tarnished the reputation of the FBI, America’s premier law enforcement agency."
McCabe enjoyed a rapid career ascent in the bureau after joining in 1996. Before being named FBI deputy director last year, he led the bureau's national security branch and also the Washington field office, one of the its largest.
But he became entangled in presidential politics in 2016 when it was revealed that his wife, during her unsuccessful legislative run, received campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend. The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife's candidacy and was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time.
He became acting director following the firing last May of Comey, and immediately assumed direct oversight of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign.
He quickly found himself at odds with the Trump administration.
As a congressional hearing days after Comey's dismissal, McCabe contradicted White House assertions that the Trump campaign investigation was one of the "smallest things" on the FBI's plate. He also strongly disputed the administration's suggestion that Comey had lost the support of the bureau's workforce.
"I can tell you that the majority, the vast majority of FBI employees, enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey," McCabe said.