Former FBI Director James Comey’s sudden firing took everyone by surprise — including Comey, who was leading his agency's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and initially thought the news of his termination was a joke.
At the time, President Donald Trump and his administration justified the decision by slamming Comey's handling of the election-year email scandal involving former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
After Comey’s departure, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the second highest ranking official at the bureau, was named the acting director — and apparently had a rather interesting interaction with Trump soon after.
As The Washington Post reported, Trump called McCabe for a meeting at the Oval Office last year in May. It was supposed to be an introductory meet-and-greet, but it took a completely different route once the president started asking questions about the political aspirations of McCabe's wife's, Dr. Jill McCabe, who ran for the Virginia state senate in 2015 and received hefty donations from the state Democratic Party and a political action committee run by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who happened to be a longtime Clinton operative.
Considering Jill ran as a Democrat, the $500,000 campaign contribution would not have been as big of an issue if her husband had not proceeded to investigate Clinton's email scandal. Although McCabe consulted with the ethics officers before his wife decided to run for office, the fact he didn’t recuse himself from the email probe stirred some controversy at the time. However, the entire case against him and his wife had just been based on speculations.
However, Trump didn’t just talk about Jill McCabe’s political career at that meeting. The commander-in-chief also asked his acting FBI director whom he voted for in the presidential election — a question McCabe found “disturbing,” according to a former White House official cited in the report.
McCabe told Trump he didn’t vote, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. However, The Washington Post claimed special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this particular conversation between the two men.
In addition to that, it appears that Trump did not want to appoint McCabe, but he eventually agreed to it as “there were no immediate better choices,” explained a source familiar with the situation.
The president later held another meeting with the acting director, which was reportedly brief and formal.
McCabe has drawn the president’s ire more than once in the past year.
While vacationing at his Mar-a-Lago resort during the Christmas break, Trump took to Twitter to eviscerate McCabe, who was questioned over his correspondence with his former boss Comey, involving the FBI's probe into alleged Russian meddling in elections as well as its probe into Clinton's emails.
How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 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
McCabe is supposed to retire in March.
As the Axios recently reported, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been “pressuring” FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe on Trump’s behest. However, Wray threatened to step down from his position if McCabe is removed, according to sources.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Yuri Gripas