Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House played no role in his resignation. “The president wasn’t part of this decision-making process,” she told reporters on Monday. The New York Times reported that McCabe told friends that he felt pressure from the director of the bureau, Christopher Wray, to step down.
But Trump had publicly attacked him, and wrote on Twitter in December, “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
There had been speculation that McCabe would step down in March, once he was eligible to receive full retirement benefits. But he has been the target of right-wing media that he is part of the so-called “deep state” undermining the Trump presidency.
McCabe served as interim FBI director after Trump fired James Comey. McCabe returned to his post after Wray was confirmed as the new director.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., blasted the media’s reporting on McCabe’s departure. He connected it to the effort by some congressional Republicans to release a classified memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that they say outlines misuse of power by the FBI and the intelligence community when it comes to surveillance of the Trump campaign.
The Washington Post reported last week that shortly after McCabe was appointed deputy FBI director, Trump asked him who he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe’s wife, Jill, was the recipient of $500,000 from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in her bid for a state senate seat. Trump was reportedly upset by McCabe’s wife’s political involvement. McAuliffe is a longtime ally of Trump’s 2016 foe, Hillary Clinton.
NBC News reported that after he fired Comey, Trump complained to McCabe that Comey was allowed to fly back to Washington on a government place. Comey had been in Los Angeles, visiting the FBI field office, at the time he was fired.
The network also said that Trump suggested that McCabe ask his wife how she felt being a loser. She failed to win her campaign for office. McCabe replied, “OK, sir.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called for a “full explanation” of the circumstances of McCabe’s departure.
He said that McCabe “was subject to baseless political attacks levied by President Trump’s sycophantic supporters in an effort to discredit the work of the FBI and the integrity of the Russia investigation.”
Update: Comey praised McCabe in a tweet.
“Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on,” Comey wrote. “He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.”