On Monday, January 29, Andrew G. McCabe retired from his post as Deputy Director of the FBI.
McCabe was the acting director from May 9 to August 2; that is, from the day President Trump fired Director Comey to the day Trump brought in a new Director, Christopher Wray. Once Wray was sworn in, McCabe reverted to his previous post as Deputy Director.
Only a week before, the website Axios reported, in a story by Jonathan Swan, that Attorney General Session had been pressuring Wray to fire McCabe. According to that report, though, Wray had pushed back, threatening to quit himself if forced to move forward against his Deputy. Given that background, McCabe’s sudden departure seemed to some a rapid reversal in fortunes.
POTUS’ press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said that the White House “wasn’t a part of the decision making process” concerning McCabe’s departure from the FBI.
NBC says that its sources say McCabe didn’t jump, he was pushed. Outside the White House the only individual who could effectively have pushed him was … Christopher Wray, his presumed protector of just days ago.
The New York Times is saying that the push did come from Wray, and that the turnabout was the consequence of an as-yet unreleased report from the bureau’s Inspector General on how McCabe and other officials handled politically delicate investigations in 2016.
Right Wing View
On the right the departure of McCabe has generally been hailed as a good thing, but also as not even remotely enough of a good thing. The idea is that the “deep state,” also known as “the swamp” is the enemy of President Trump and thus of Making America Great Again.
Trump’s rightwing admirers generally believe that layer after layer at the FBI will have to be removed from office – the swamp requires a lot of draining.
One common view on the right through the day Monday was that it was the infamous Nunes memo that turned Wray around, that turned him from being a protector of McCabe’s position to becoming the man who effectively pushed McCabe out an office window.
The right also stresses a connection between the Clinton and the McCabe families. As Breitbart put it, “Republicans … have questioned why he only recused himself from the Clinton email investigation a week before the election when his wife received hundreds of thousands in campaign donations from a close Hillary Clinton ally.”
Left Wing View
Clint Watts, a liberal with a military and FBI resume, tweeted soon after McCabe’s departure, “My dream future would be Andy McCabe moving to CA-22d district, registering with @GOP and unseating @DevinNunes in 2020 @GOP primary.”
Much of the immediate reaction from the left, though, was about the chain of command, and the tight or loose connection between POTUS’ displeasure with McCabe on the one hand and McCabe’s departure from office on the other. In Slate, the reigning theory was that the connection was only a loose one, and that McCabe was a casualty of the “new team” that Wray is now bringing in to run the FBI.
Vox adds that Wray apparently offered McCabe a choice of accepting a demotion down the FBIU ranks or leave entirely. McCabe choose the latter.
As for Wray himself, he sent out an agency-wide email explaining McCabe’s departure to the FBI. But it was cryptically worded. It acknowledged the ongoing investigation by the inspector general into alleged political influence on the FBI’s operations, but it did not attribute McCabe’s departure to any findings of the IG. It said only that the Director cannot comment on that inquiry until it is finished.