As the hours pass bringing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe closer to his retirement, effective this weekend, there is speculation that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may fire him first and jeopardize his federal pension.
Sessions is reportedly reviewing a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to terminate McCabe, The New York Times reported.
An internal report from the DOJ inspector general, cited by FBI Director Chris Wray as the reason for McCabe’s decision to step aside, concluded that he was not forthcoming with answers regarding his 2016 decision to allow F.B.I. officials to speak with reporters about a Clinton Foundation investigation.
The Justice Department would not specifically comment on the possibility of McCabe being fired before his pension takes effect on Sunday.
“The department follows a prescribed process by which an employee may be terminated,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said, according to the Times. “That process includes recommendations from career employees, and no termination decision is final until the conclusion of that process. We have no personnel announcements at this time.”
President Trump has frequently criticized McCabe, a 21-year F.B.I. veteran, and even called out Sessions about taking action against him.
Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2017
Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
According to the Times:
Firing Mr. McCabe, even on the recommendation of the disciplinary office, would be controversial. Among Mr. McCabe’s allies, the decision would raise the specter that Mr. Sessions was influenced by Mr. Trump’s frequent derisive comments. No deputy director in the history of the F.B.I. has been fired.
Trump has also been critical of McCabe’s wife, Jill, who ran as a Democrat for a State Senate seat in Virginia and received campaign donations from a political committee run by then-Virginia governor and Clinton friend, Terry McAuliffe.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called McCabe a “bad actor” but said the ultimate decision on his future is up to Sessions.
“We do think that it is well documented that he has had some very troubling behavior and by most accounts a bad actor,” she said.
McCabe met with Justice Department officials on Thursday to plead his case, asking not to be fired before his planned departure, The Washington Post reported.
George Washington University Law School professor, Jonathan Turley, found McCabe’s priorities to be strange, telling Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on Thursday that the FBI official appears to be “worried more about pensions than prison.”
Sessions has until Friday at 5 p.m. EDT to act on the recommendation and fire McCabe.