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Trump says Andrew McCabe’s firing is a “great day for democracy”

It’s not.

President Donald Trump greets supporters at the White House following an event with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar one day before Andrew McCabe was fired.
President Donald Trump greets supporters at the White House following an event with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar one day before Andrew McCabe was fired.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Friday night, President Donald Trump celebrated the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours before his formal retirement as a “great day for Democracy.” He also took a swipe at “sanctimonious” former FBI Director James Comey and said “choirboy” McCabe knew about the “lies and corruption” going on at the FBI. The tweet is the latest chapter in President Trump’s sustained attack on the Justice Department and the FBI.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced that he would fire McCabe from the FBI. McCabe stepped down from his position in January but hadn’t planned to formally retire until March 18, his 50th birthday. Sessions’s decision to fire him, two days before his retirement, could strip him of his pension.

The controversy around McCabe stems, in part, from yet-to-be-released findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general that the FBI deputy director misled investigators about allowing two top FBI officials to talk to reporters about his decision to open a case into the Clinton Foundation. But Trump and Republicans have for months attacked McCabe over what they say are his wife’s compromising political ties to Hillary Clinton. (McCabe’s wife ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia and received donations from the state’s Democratic Party and a Clinton ally.)

McCabe in a fiery statement on Friday said he was being “singled out and treated this way” because of what he did and saw after FBI Director Comey was fired in May 2017, and that the attack on his credibility “is part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.” He said the “big picture” is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized.

McCabe was deputy director under Comey and became acting director of the FBI when he was fired until August, when Trump tapped Christopher Wray for the job.

The decision to fire McCabe, stripping him of his pension after two decades of the job is particularly vindictive. Former CIA Director John Brennan tore into Trump on Twitter over his celebration of McCabe’s firing. “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” he wrote. “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a tweet late Friday that in the absence of the inspector general’s report, which has not been made public, it was “impossible” to evaluate the merits of McCabe’s treatment.

Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a pair of tweets took aim at both Sessions for succumbing to pressure to fire McCabe and at Trump weighing in. “Once upon a time I thought Alberto Gonzales was the weakest and most craven Attorney General in modern times,” he wrote, referring to the George W. Bush appointee who was forced to resign amid accusations of perjury and controversy over warrantless surveillance of US citizens. “I was wrong.” To Trump’s celebratory tweet, Bharara responded, “Butt out. For once. For the country. For yourself too.”