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FBI's deputy director steps down after long-running criticism from Trump

The White House said it played no role in Andrew McCabe’s departure.

Andrew McCabe,
Andrew McCabe,
Image: CQ-Roll Call/SIPA USA/PA Images

THE FBI’S DEPUTY director, Andrew McCabe, is stepping down after having been accused by US President Donald Trump of being a Democratic partisan, a government source confirmed today.

McCabe is stopping work immediately but will remain on the FBI payroll until March to obtain retirement benefits, the source confirmed.

McCabe, 49, was expected to leave sometime early this year when he became fully eligible for a pension, after two decades in the bureau.

The FBI had no official comment. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had no role in McCabe’s decision.

“The president wasn’t part of this decision-making process,” Sanders said.

Comey loyalist 

The early departure comes after McCabe endured months of tough criticism from Republicans for his loyalty to fired FBI director James Comey and alleged bias against Trump.

McCabe and Comey had key roles in the FBI’s probe of Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, which ultimately cleared the Democrat of criminal wrongdoing in her misuse of a personal email server while she was Secretary of State. The president has repeatedly assailed that decision as wrong.

Both were also involved in the initial stages of an ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the election, something Trump has denied.

After Trump fired Comey on 9 May 2017, McCabe became acting director of the FBI.

Days later he appeared before Congress, rebutting Trump’s claim that Comey had left the bureau “in turmoil” and lost the confidence of the FBI staff.

Comey “enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does”, McCabe said.

Sharp attack from Trump 

Accusations of bias also arose from McCabe’s wife having run as a Democrat for local political office in Virginia in 2015, receiving financial support from the party.

In July 2017, Trump questioned why Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not dismiss 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 big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives,” he wrote on Twitter.

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After naming a new FBI director in August, Christopher Wray, Trump kept up the pressure.

He tweeted again in December about McCabe’s wife, and his role in the Clinton probe. He added a hint that McCabe was soon to depart, before it was publicly known.

“FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!,” Trump wrote.

But McCabe retained strong support from within the Justice community, and Democrats have called Trump’s pressure a part of a broader campaign to tarnish the bureau and weaken the Mueller collusion investigation.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder lauded McCabe in a statement released today.

“FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is, and has been, a dedicated public servant who has served this country well.

“Bogus attacks on the FBI and DOJ to distract attention from a legitimate criminal inquiry does long-term, unnecessary damage to these foundations of our government,” he said.

© AFP 2018 

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