|16th Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation|
February 1, 2016 – January 29, 2018
Christopher A. Wray
|Preceded by||Mark F. Giuliano|
|Succeeded by||David Bowdich|
|Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation|
May 9, 2017 – August 2, 2017
|Preceded by||James Comey|
|Succeeded by||Christopher A. Wray|
Andrew George McCabe
March 18, 1968
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Duke University (BA)|
Washington University in St. Louis (JD)
McCabe joined the FBI as a special agent in 1996 and served with the bureau's SWAT team. He became a supervisory special agent in 2003 and held management positions of increasing responsibility until he was elevated to Deputy Director of the FBI in February 2016. From May 9, 2017, to August 2, 2017, McCabe served as the Acting Director of the FBI following James Comey's dismissal by President Donald Trump. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that McCabe was one of several candidates under consideration for Director. President Trump ultimately chose Christopher A. Wray, the former Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Criminal Division, to succeed Comey. Once Wray was sworn in, McCabe returned to the position of Deputy Director.
Sessions fired McCabe on March 16, 2018, 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. Sessions announced that he based his decision on reports from the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI's disciplinary office saying that McCabe had improperly authorized releases of information to The Wall Street Journal about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and had misled agents who questioned him about it on four separate occasions, three of which were under oath. McCabe disputed these charges and alleged that his firing was politically motivated. In September 2019, federal prosecutors recommended McCabe be indicted for actions relating to the leak. The Justice Department inspector general report published on December 9, 2019 did not find McCabe engaged in politically biased actions against Trump. After the report was published, McCabe said being accused of treason and being subject to years of personal attacks from Trump was "quite honestly terrifying", particularly as Trump had insinuated the proper punishment should be the death penalty.
McCabe was born in 1968. He graduated from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1986. He graduated from Duke University in 1990 and obtained a J.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1993. He was also a brother of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. During law school he interned in the criminal division of the United States Department of Justice. Because of a hiring freeze, McCabe spent three years in a private law practice in Philadelphia before joining the FBI in 1996.
McCabe began his FBI career in the New York Field Office in 1996. While there, he was on the SWAT team. In 2003, he began work as a supervisory special agent at the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force. Later, McCabe held management positions in the FBI Counterterrorism Division, the FBI National Security Branch and the FBI's Washington Field Office. In 2009, he served as the first director of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, a program to research interrogation techniques that was created after the Department of Defense Directive 2310 ban of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques. McCabe was part of the investigation of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. McCabe secured the arrest of Ahmed Abu Khattala for suspected involvement in the 2012 Benghazi attack.
In 2017 the Inspector General of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigated McCabe over concerns that he should have recused himself from the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server because of a potential conflict of interest caused by donations to his wife's campaign as a Democrat for the Virginia State Senate. FBI documents released in January 2018 showed that McCabe had in 2015, before his wife ran for political office in Virginia, notified the FBI about his wife's plans and consulted with the FBI about how he would avoid a conflict of interest. The documents showed that McCabe followed FBI protocol regarding potential conflicts of interest. McCabe did not oversee the Clinton email server probe while his wife was running for office and he was excluded from FBI investigations into public corruption cases in Virginia. According to USA Today, "the internal documents, published on the FBI's website, support what the bureau has asserted previously: that McCabe had no conflicts when he assumed oversight of the Clinton investigation. His role began in February 2016, following his appointment as deputy director and three months after his wife, Jill McCabe, lost her bid for a state Senate seat."
On May 9, 2017, McCabe became acting director of the FBI after Trump dismissed Comey as director. In the absence of a Senate-confirmed director, the deputy director automatically becomes acting director. Statute allows the president to choose an interim FBI director (acting director) outside of the standard order of succession. That process began on May 10, 2017, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein interviewed four candidates to serve as interim FBI director. Sessions said that McCabe was "also under consideration". Shortly after Trump fired Comey, McCabe visited the White House for an introductory meeting in the Oval Office with the president, during which time the president reportedly asked McCabe who he had voted for in the 2016 election.
The Wall Street Journal published on October 20, 2016, an account of Justice Department and FBI internal deliberations regarding an investigation of the Clinton Foundation that began in 2015. Four FBI field offices — New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock — were pursuing the investigation, with some field agents advocating that it be aggressively continued, while some supervisors and prosecutors believed there was insufficient evidence and that the investigation was too expansive. In July 2016, McCabe decided that the New York FBI office would continue investigating, with assistance from Little Rock. The Journal reported that a senior Justice Department official called McCabe to express his disagreement with this decision, with McCabe reportedly asking, "Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?" to which the unnamed official replied, "Of course not."
Discussion of invoking 25th amendment to remove Trump
McCabe stated in a February 2019 interview with 60 Minutes that during the days after Comey was fired, concerns about whether Trump had obstructed justice and "had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests" caused "the highest levels of American law enforcement [to try] to figure out what to do with the president", including the possibility of advocating Vice Presidential and Cabinet use of the 25th Amendment to have Trump suspended from office, and ultimately removed by Congress. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who had previously been reported but denied having discussed such matters with his colleagues, denied McCabe's assertion as "inaccurate and factually incorrect". McCabe's revelation prompted Senate Judiciary Chairman, Chuck Grassley, to promise investigation of the claims.
Starting in July 2017, Trump repeatedly attacked McCabe in Twitter comments, suggesting that Sessions should dismiss McCabe, accusing him of conflicts because of his wife's campaign for state office, and taunting him about "racing the clock" until his retirement. In January 2018 it was reported that Attorney General Sessions had been pressuring FBI Director Wray to fire McCabe. However, Wray refused and reportedly threatened to resign if McCabe was removed.
The Nunes memo, which alleges improper activities in seeking a warrant to surveil former Trump associate Carter Page, asserts that McCabe "testified before the [House Intelligence] Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier", a document many Trump supporters insist is completely false. However, McCabe's testimony was in classified session and no public transcript is available to confirm the Nunes memo assertion; disclosing contents of the classified testimony would be unlawful. Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the Nunes memo "seriously mischaracterizes the testimony of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe." The Nunes memo also asserts that a text message from Peter Strzok discusses "a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an 'insurance' policy against President Trump's election". However, The Wall Street Journal reported on December 18, 2017, that Strzok associates said the "insurance policy" meant the FBI continuing its investigation into possible collusion between Trump and Russians, in case Trump won the election.
Resignation and firing
After meeting with Director Wray concerning the OIG report and a possible demotion, McCabe announced on January 29, 2018, that he was stepping down as deputy director, effective immediately. He then went on paid leave until his scheduled retirement date of March 18, 2018, his 50th birthday, at which point he would be eligible for a retirement pension. McCabe did not lose his entire pension.
On March 1, 2018, The New York Times and The Washington Post, citing persons familiar with an investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, reported that the inspector general was preparing a report that would conclude that McCabe was "responsible for approving an improper media disclosure", specifically relating to an October 2016 Wall Street Journal article that reported on disagreements between the FBI and Justice Department over an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
On March 14, 2018, the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility, citing the inspector general's conclusions, recommended that McCabe be fired. Attorney General Sessions announced at 10 p.m. on Friday, March 16, 2018, that he was taking the recommendation and firing McCabe. He cited the inspector general's report, which had not yet been publicly released, saying that "Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor - including under oath - on multiple occasions." McCabe told The New York Times, "The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong. This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness." McCabe was dismissed less than two days before he would have collected a full early pension for his FBI career. He may have to wait until age 57–62 to begin collecting pension benefits. Trump immediately celebrated on Twitter, saying "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."
On March 17, Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin offered McCabe a security post in his congressional office. With McCabe short by two days of work for a federal agency to receive his benefits, Pocan said that "Andrew McCabe's firing makes it clear that President Trump is doing everything he can to discredit the FBI and undermine the Special Counsel's investigation" and described his job offer as a "legitimate offer to work on election security". Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton was also reported to be considering offering McCabe a position in his office.
On March 21, 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that McCabe's firing was not politically influenced but done "by the book". Also on March 21, immediately after McCabe's firing, a parallel situation was noted and reported: that just as Jeff Sessions had fired McCabe for lacking "candor", McCabe had, nearly a year previous to his own firing, authorized a criminal investigation into "whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives".
On April 13, the OIG report was released to Congress and obtained by the Associated Press, which then published it. McCabe issued a response to the report, disputing its conclusions. The report found that McCabe lied to or misled federal investigators at least four times, with three of these instances occurring while he was under oath. The report also stated that his approval of disclosures to the media was within his power, but was a policy violation because it was done "in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership". McCabe's lawyer Michael R. Bromwich responded that the investigation and report had been politicized by pressure from Trump, and announced that McCabe intended to sue the Trump administration and senior officials for "wrongful termination, defamation, Constitutional violations and more". On April 19, 2018, it was reported that the Inspector General referred its findings from the report to the United States Attorney's Office in Washington D.C. for possible criminal charges associated with lying to FBI investigators.
In a February 2019 interview with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes McCabe said he took actions to protect the Russian-interference investigation from successors who might terminate it, because he or Mueller could be removed from their positions. He said "I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground and if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they made that decision." He ordered the probe of possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.
In August 2019, McCabe filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the DOJ, saying his firing, which took effect only hours before his scheduled retirement, was the result of improper political interference by the president. His suit says he is "entitled to his full law enforcement pension and all other benefits, privileges, and rights currently being withheld". Also in August 2019, McCabe was hired by CNN as contributor, drawing criticism from media critics and conservatives.
The Justice Department has for eighteen months been presenting a case to a grand jury to consider indicting McCabe for allegedly making false statements to investigators about the improper release of information to The Wall Street Journal relating to the FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation. McCabe has been pressing the DOJ to drop the matter, asserting lack of evidence. The grand jury had been idle for months before being summoned to reconvene in early September 2019, but was promptly dismissed without any public announcement of an indictment. The DOJ then immediately rejected McCabe's arguments, and prosecutors recommended he be indicted. False statements made during the course of internal DOJ investigations are typically punished by administrative discipline, rather than criminal prosecutions, and McCabe's attorneys asserted he was being singled out.
McCabe's attorney, former DOJ inspector general Michael Bromwich, asserted in a letter to Jessie Liu, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, "It is clear that no indictment has been returned" by the grand jury, based on press reports and a discussion he'd had with the prosecutors involved in the case, Joseph Cooney and Molly Gaston. Such an outcome would be highly unusual, as grand juries return indictments for nearly all cases brought to them. Consequently, a failure to secure a grand jury indictment — which may require only a simple majority decision based solely on evidence presented by the government — could prove embarrassing to the DOJ, as it suggests the government's case could not win a unanimous trial jury verdict. McCabe's attorneys asserted the DOJ should drop the investigation if the grand jury did not return an indictment. The New York Times reported that two prosecutors on the case had recently left the DOJ, which is unusual in a case nearing an indictment, with one of the attorneys expressing reservations about the merits of the DOJ case. The Times also noted political undertones of the case, as McCabe had authorized the investigation into whether President Trump had obstructed justice, and as a result he had become a frequent target of Trump's ire. McCabe filed a wrongful termination suit against the DOJ in August 2019, asserting his firing was intended to remove officials who had been deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump.
On September 30, 2019, Federal Judge Reggie B. Walton told federal prosecutors that they needed to either file charges against McCabe or drop the investigation, saying "This is just dragging too long." The problem is that the investigation has since July 2018 been holding up the release of documents subject to a Freedom of Information Act request. The judge gave prosecutors a November 15 deadline to make a decision, saying he would order the release of the documents after that date. In a November 14 hearing, Walton excoriated prosecutors, suggesting they were stalling a decision whether to charge McCabe by using a "smoke screen" to deceive the judge.
McCabe is married to Jill McCabe, a pediatrician, who was a Democratic candidate for the Virginia state senate in 2015. They have two children, a son and a daughter. He is a triathlete who biked 35 miles (56 km) to work from his home in Virginia.
|After Words interview with McCabe on The Threat, March 2, 2019, C-SPAN|
- The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump (St. Martin's Press, released February 19, 2019) ISBN 9781250207579
- Timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2017)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (January–June 2018)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (July–December 2018)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2019)
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Mark F. Giuliano
| Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
| Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Christopher A. Wray