2019-08-09 17:56:001 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Andrew McCabe (Image source: Public domain)
Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe appears to be tired of having his name drug through the mud by Republicans. He has filed a lawsuit against the FBI for firing him, alleging it was a plot by Donald Trump to eliminate those who weren't loyal to him.
McCabe was the deputy FBI director in May 2017 when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which left McCabe as acting director. He started two investigations: one on Trump's alleged obstruction of justice for firing Comey and the other a look at whether the president was secretly working for Russia.
He has admitted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested at the time that he would wear a wire to trap Trump, and then they would invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
Before McCabe was fired the following year, Trump made lots of chatter about him, mostly in connection to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
McCabe's wife, Jill, ran an unsuccessful campaign as a Democrat for Virginia state senator in 2016. Trump made many claims about her, including that she got money from a Clinton source and that influenced McCabe to make certain decisions in the investigation of Clinton's family foundation.
McCabe allowed two bureau officials to discuss the investigation with the press in August 2016, and he has been accused of misleading the inspector general's team about his actions.
In his lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, McCabe asked for a federal judge to declare his March 2018 termination from the FBI a "legal nullity." He was fired just hours before he'd planned to retire, causing him to lose retirement benefits.
"It was Trump's unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him," claims the lawsuit that also claims his termination "was a critical element of Trump's plan and scheme."
The inspector general referred the McCabe case to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington. The court has been using a grand jury to determine whether criminal charges against McCabe would apply.
His lawsuit was filed just one day after former FBI agent Peter Strzok filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully terminated as well for political reasons.
Strzok's name has been brought up frequently in the Russia investigation. It was learned he sent messages speaking ill of Trump to Lisa Page, an FBI attorney whom he was having an affair with. He was on special counsel Robert Mueller's team until the messages were discovered. He was promptly fired.
McCabe's lawsuit alleges that Trump included high-ranking members of federal law enforcement to stifle opinions against him.
It claims former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray "knowingly acted in furtherance of Trump's plan and scheme, with knowledge that they were implementing Trump's unconstitutional motivations for removing Plaintiff from the civil service."
"Trump demanded Plaintiff's personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and Sessions, Wray, and others served as Trump's personal enforcers rather than the nation's highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump's unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution," the lawsuit continues.
It also claims Trump feared his time in office was in peril because he lost the popular vote in 2016 and because his campaign accepted Russian assistance during the election.
"Once in office," according to the suit, "Trump began to purge the DOJ and FBI of officials whom he perceived as his partisan opponents rather than Trump loyalists, and as affiliated with the Democrats because of their support for the Russia investigation."
The suit also makes the claim that when McCabe was acting FBI director, Rosenstein made mention of a photo of him wearing a t-shirt from his wife's campaign and suggested it could create a credibility issue. He asked McCabe to recuse himself, but he replied he planned to retire the following March when he was eligible. He was replaced by Wray and returned to being the deputy director.
"Plaintiff understood Rosenstein's concern about unspecified third parties' complaints to include the only officials who outranked Rosenstein in the DOJ chain of command: Trump and Sessions," reads the suit.
But Trump wanted McCabe gone before March. The lawsuit explains in August 2017, Sessions, at the behest of Trump, asked Wray to fire McCabe, but the director refused and "suggested that he would resign if Sessions continued to apply such pressure."
Wray was told in 2017 of a forthcoming inspector general report. He gave McCabe a choice of moving to a lesser role in the bureau and falsely saying he was doing so voluntarily or be assigned to a lesser role that Wray would choose for him.
McCabe replied he'd go on terminal leave until he was eligible to retire but would not lie to the FBI workforce about why he was leaving.
Candice Will, the FBI's assistant director for the Office of Professional Responsibility, recommended on March 7, 2018, that McCabe be fired because of the inspector general's findings.
The lawsuit claims it seemed she knew of the desire to remove him from office before his retirement because she attached a note that read, "It seems unlikely that [the proposed termination] will reach final resolution before Mr. McCabe's March 18 retirement date, but that is up to the DAG."
McCabe's lawsuit claims the termination process was expedited so that he didn't have enough time to review the case against him and that one DOJ official admitted to "making it up as we go along."
He learned through media he was being fired, and Trump celebrated the termination on Twitter. He claims his constitutional rights were violated.
Surprisingly, Trump has not tweeted about this lawsuit.
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