Attorney General Jeff Sessions Is Trapped on the Horns of a Friday Dilemma

Should he or should he not fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — and in the process deny him a generous federal pension?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions faces a dangerous decision with a deadline. Should he fire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe within hours of his retirement Friday, and thereby likely deprive him of a lucrative lifetime federal pension — or should he let McCabe’s week run out?

If only the decision were so straightforward. There’s much more to the back story on this one.

The dilemma was thrust upon Sessions earlier this week by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which recommended that McCabe be terminated before his pension begins. Federal law allows civil service pensions to be denied for serious offenses, but once the checks start flowing it’s illegal to stop them.

The OPR got involved after Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s investigators found that McCabe had lied to them about his actions in leaking information to the media about the FBI’s probe of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and address.

If Sessions does as OPR recommended, McCabe will lose millions of dollars in benefits. The precise amount cannot be known because such individual personnel details are exempt from disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

But firing McCabe could hand Democrats and the liberal mainstream media another “Trump Fires Comey” moment, only with Sessions in the role of the heavy wreaking revenge on the former FBI chief’s closest subordinate. And don’t forget, nobody knows what firing McCabe might look like to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Do you support individual military members being able to opt out of getting the COVID vaccine?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from LifeZette, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

Related: Here’s Why Jeff Sessions May Be Washington’s Slyest Fox

Not firing Sessions, though, will prompt Republicans to accuse Trump and Sessions of going easy on one of the central players in what they believe was an official coverup in the Clinton email investigation to protect her prospects as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Failure to dispatch McCabe will also fuel Sessions’ critics who see him as weak and captive to the bureaucracy.

But wait, there’s more, so much more:

For one thing, firing any career civil servant — much less one with 21 years of service in the nation’s premier law enforcement agency — is never easy and is always time-consuming and expensive. Since McCabe will sue the government (the Perkins Coie telephone may be ringing already) to get his pension restored, the issue will remain in the media, sapping resources, especially the focus and attention of Sessions.

The government may be prepared for such a long struggle with McCabe, though, because OPR’s recommendation didn’t just suddenly appear. Somebody made the decision to go forward and that person’s confidence must have been based on something the public hasn’t yet learned regarding McCabe’s conduct on the job.

The Last Refuge’s Sundance points out yet another aspect of the decision facing Sessions: “On one hand, you could make an argument the OPR’s disciplinary recommendation is (Good Guys) trying to hit and punish McCabe at the last moment possible.  However, on the other hand you can look at this leaked disciplinary recommendation as Machiavellian characters (Bad Guys) within the FBI setting up AG Sessions, painting him into a corner, to create yet another controversial storyline.”

Sundance makes it clear which explanation makes sense to him:

“No. Sorry. Not even beginning to buy the angle of a decent department watchdog doing their level-best to bring justice upon the head of a corrupt FBI political operative, Andrew McCabe.  I’m not buying it.

Related: Sessions Confirms Justice Probe of FBI’s FISA Warrant Application

“The motive for this FBI watchdog leaked internal story today, and the OPR recommendation therein, is most likely to create yet another antagonistic controversy. The FBI Machiavelli schemers are still doing their duplicitous crap.”

A big factor underlying Sundance’s skepticism here is captured in this question:

“Where was the OPR while the entire administrative apparatus of the FBI was leaking to the media, constructing false witness, assembling fraudulent investigative materials, conducting sham investigations with predetermined outcomes; blocking congressional oversight, and generally behaving like a rogue political intelligence apparatus? Seriously, where was the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility then?”

Here’s one final thought on what’s behind the Sessions decision. Regardless of who is hurt by Sessions’ decision, it won’t be the FBI bureaucracy. A Sessions decision to fire McCabe adds to the unending controversy around Trump while lending an appearance of ethical toughness to the bureaucrats who encouraged making an example of their former deputy director.

Similarly, if Sessions spares McCabe’s pension, it creates more problems for the bureaucracy’s closest Trump-appointed nemesis, thus extending the bureaucrats’ autonomy into the indefinite future and further insulating them from external accountability.

Either way Sessions goes, the entrenched time-servers deep in the bureau’s bowels protect themselves. It’s what bureaucrats do.

Senior editor Mark Tapscott can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

Join the Discussion

COMMENTS POLICY: We have no tolerance for messages of violence, racism, vulgarity, obscenity or other such discourteous behavior. Thank you for contributing to a respectful and useful online dialogue.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments