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Andrew McCabe’s wife speaks out on Trump’s attacks

In a Washington Post op-ed, Jill McCabe writes that smears on the fired FBI official’s integrity “could not be further from the truth.”

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Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

Jill McCabe, the wife of the fired FBI official who’s been the target of Donald Trump’s ire, tells her side of the story in a Washington Post op-ed, published Monday.

In the op-ed, McCabe defends her integrity and reputation — and by extension, that of her husband, Andrew McCabe — saying she relentlessly, and falsely, came under attack from the president and his allies. She also explains her decision to run for political office in Virginia, clarifying her ties to and the donations from Clinton allies, which became the target of Trump’s Twitter rants.

“I am an emergency room pediatrician and an accidental politician — someone who never thought much about politics until I was recruited to run for state office after making a statement about the importance of expanding Medicaid,” McCabe writes in her op-ed. “That decision — plus some twisted reporting and presidential tweets — ended up costing my husband, Andrew, his job and our family a significant portion of his pension my husband had worked hard for over 21 years of federal service.”

“For the past year and a half of this nightmare, I have not been free to speak out about what happened,” she adds. “Now that Andrew has been fired, I am.”

McCabe’s op-ed comes a little more than a week after her husband penned his own opinion piece in the same publication, defending himself and his career. Andrew McCabe was abruptly fired a day before he was set to retire based on a forthcoming Justice Department Inspector General’s Office report, which recommended he be removed because he made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and “lacked candor under oath.” McCabe’s dismissal likely cost him his full pension, and he and his allies have punched back, trying to portray his firing as politically motivated.

The inspector general report hasn’t been released, but Jill McCabe doesn’t discuss the politics around that. Instead, she focuses on Trump’s attempts to discredit her husband by using her 2015 Democratic run for the Virginia state Senate as a ploy to depict him as something of a “deep state” adversary of the Trump administration and a hiding-in-plain-sight shill for Hillary Clinton.

Jill McCabe addresses campaign contributions from Clinton allies

Trump and his supporters’ fury over McCabe began with what they considered compromising ties to Hillary Clinton. In 2015, Jill McCabe ran for the Virginia state Senate as a Democrat, and received campaign funding from the state Democratic Party and a PAC associated with then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe — a Clinton ally.

Andrew McCabe, who served as the acting director of the FBI after James Comey’s firing, for a time led the investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties and oversaw the investigation into Clinton’s emails.

Jill McCabe dismisses the idea that her husband was influenced by her state Senate run. She makes a point to say that Andrew voted as a “reliable Republican” and paints herself as a ticket splitter.

She said she approached the decision to run for Virginia state Senate cautiously; she is an emergency room pediatrician and happened to make a comment about expanding Medicaid to a reporter, catching the attention of state politicians.

She writes:

I started to become more interested, thinking, “Here’s a way I can really try to help people on a bigger scale than what I do every day.” While I was considering the possibility, Andrew and I went to Richmond to meet with various politicians, including then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The subject of Hillary Clinton never came up — the story about her emails had not even broken when I was first approached by Northam. All the governor asked of me was that I support Medicaid expansion.

Still, in thinking about running, one of my first concerns was Andrew and his job at the FBI, where he was the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office. I said to Andrew, “If you think this is going to be a problem for you professionally, even if it’s allowed, I won’t do it.”

Jill McCabe said she and Andrew consulted ethics experts at the FBI and “tried to go even beyond what the rules required.” She said when it came to accepting money or working with Clinton’s allies, had she known about any emails, she would “have found that alarming, immediately reported it and likely pulled out of the campaign.”

As for whether her campaign influenced her husband’s work at the FBI, Jill McCabe is adamant that this was a false smear:

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it makes no sense. Andrew’s involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over. Since that news report, there have been thousands more, repeating the false allegation that there was some connection between my campaign and my husband’s role at the FBI.

McCabe concluded by calling out the president’s “destructive lies” and attacks on Twitter, blasting the insinuation from team Trump that her decision to run for office was inherently corrupt. “To have my personal reputation and integrity and those of my family attacked this way is beyond horrible,” she wrote.

Jill McCabe’s op-ed adds a voice — her own — that has largely been absent from the FBI drama. She paints the president’s attacks as personal as much as political, and defends her decision to run for office.

At the same time, her piece doesn’t offer many new revelations about her husband’s firing. Andrew McCabe has defended his 21-year career, and he has tried to cast his actions called into question in the IG report in the most sympathetic light as possible.

There’s no question that Trump turned McCabe’s firing into a political cudgel, gleefully tweeting about his ouster and claiming it as more proof of the invalidity of the Russia investigation. But until the full inspector general report is released, it’s impossible to pin down the legitimacy, or illegitimacy, of Andrew McCabe’s firing.