Trump tried to force out the FBI's deputy director, Andrew McCabe, in front of the whole country. To say he had nothing to do McCabe's departure is a lie, and everyone knows it.
The White House predictably greeted the news that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down with a lie and an easily refutable one at that.
On Monday afternoon, news broke that McCabe, who had planned to retire later this year, is stepping down immediately. Several news outlets, including Fox, reported that he was in fact “removed” from his post.
At the daily briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the decision was FBI Director Christopher Wray’s to make and that “none of the decision” was made by the White House.
But when ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega asked Sanders to confirm that “the president didn’t play a role” in McCabe’s removal, Sanders replied that “he was not part of this process, and we would refer you to the FBI.”
The fact is, though, that Trump has engaged in an open months-long smear campaign against McCabe, urging his removal.
Last July, Trump tweeted that “the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!” and asked why McCabe had not been replaced.
Then, in December, Trump retweeted a call for the FBI director to “clean house,” tweeted discredited conspiracies about McCabe, and said that “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”
The exact details of McCabe’s departure are still unknown, but it is part of the public record that Trump has been aggressively campaigning for McCabe to leave. A week ago, Sanders all but confirmed the story that Wray had threatened to quit if McCabe was fired.
Whatever other steps Trump might have taken behind closed doors is not known, but last week, we learned Trump privately tried to determine McCabe’s loyalty to him by asking how McCabe had voted.
McCabe’s answer that he had not voted in 2016 apparently was not assurance enough for Trump or his Republican enablers in Congress, who immediately started attacking McCabe publicly.
More than a mere “role,” Trump is neck-deep in an effort to purge the FBI. He fired Director James Comey, he tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, and now his efforts to force out McCabe appear to have worked.