The recently ousted FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — who had taken over as acting director of the bureau after his boss, James Comey, was fired — maintained personal memos on President Donald Trump, the Associated Press first reported on Saturday.
The report comes a day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe two days before he planned to formally retire, a move that could strip him of his pension. McCabe said the vindictive act was the result of the role he played in the aftermath of FBI Director James Comey’s departure, who also infamously kept memos about his interactions with Trump.
McCabe said that the president’s directive was an effort to slander him as well as to “taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally.” McCabe, who turns 50 on Sunday, stepped down as deputy director of the FBI in January but hadn’t planned to formally retire until March 18, his 50th birthday.
McCabe kept memos similar to the ones maintained by Comey, according to the Associated Press, citing a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The memos reportedly include details of interactions with the president and other topics. The Wall Street Journal reported that he gave the memos to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee last June he kept memos about his interactions with Trump because he was worried the president would lie about them. One of the memos, which was initially reported by the New York Times in May 2017, said that the president encouraged Comey to drop the investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. A federal judge in February rejected requests from news organizations to obtain all of Comey’s memos.
McCabe’s firing isn’t supposed to be political, but it looks anything but.
The controversy around McCabe stems in part from yet-to-be-released findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general; the case alleges that McCabe 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.)
On Friday, McCabe hit back in a fiery statement in which he said he was being “singled out and treated this way” because of what he did and saw after Comey was fired in May 2017. He said the “big picture” is a tale of what can happen when law enforcement is politicized.
Betsy Woodruff at the Daily Beast reported on Saturday that the former deputy FBI director has hired attorney Michael Bromwich of the Bromwich Group to represent him. Given reports of the memos, McCabe’s statement, and his decision to lawyer up, it appears that the battle over his ouster is far from over.
Soon after news of the McCabe memos broke, President Trump — who on Friday night celebrated McCabe’s firing as a “great day for democracy” — tweeted that the House Intelligence Committee had concluded there was “no collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign. (House Republicans came up with those findings; not Democrats.)
He also continued his attack on the Justice Department and the FBI, where he alleged there was “tremendous leaking, lying, and corruption.” There is no evidence of a widespread campaign against Trump at the Justice Department or the FBI.
As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. #DrainTheSwamp— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
Minutes later, the president fired off another tweet about McCabe, in which he lobbed accusations about donations to his wife’s campaign by Clinton ally and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The president spun an unfounded conspiracy theory that has become increasingly hard to track. “How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!” he wrote.
The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
Comey responded to the president’s attacks with a tweet of his own on Saturday. “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon,” he wrote. “And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.” Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is set for release on April 17.
Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.— James Comey (@Comey) March 17, 2018