On Sunday, FBI Director Christopher Wray went to a secure location to read a memo prepared by Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
The memo, which the committee voted late Monday to make public, reportedly describes serious abuses in the investigation into the so-called Trump-Russia collusion, including weak justifications to obtain surveillance warrants aimed at the president and top members of his 2016 presidential campaign staff.
Whatever the memo contains, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was out the door on Monday — forced out as deputy director and now awaiting his official retirement as an FBI agent in March.
How much the memo had to do with the FBI's and McCabe's decision is unclear. The Justice Department inspector general (IG) is also working on a report about FBI conduct during the 2016 election.
Adam Goldman, a New York Times reporter, tweeted late Monday afternoon that the report is the factor, and that the IG found something troubling about McCabe in his report. Wray was going to demote him, Goldman said, but McCabe acted first.
A third factor could have been Trump himself. The president has reportedly been pressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Wray to fire McCabe, who is a Democrat. Wray disliked the president's pressure so much he threatened to quit, according to Axios — in a report that was hotly disputed by the White House.
Regardless of the cause, McCabe is gone — on "terminal leave." He'll use the remainder of his leave days and then retire in March. McCabe previously said he would retire in March, but something clearly hastened his departure.
A crucial factor in the situation was that McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe, ran for the Virginia state Senate in 2015, and accepted $468,000 from a political committee aligned with former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime personal friend, fundraiser and political confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Virginia Democratic Party gave McCabe another $200,000.
McCabe was deeply involved in the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use, during her tenure as secretary of state, of a private email server and address to conduct official government business. Republicans believe Clinton got an election-year pass despite mishandling hundreds of classified documents concerning the nation's deepest national security secrets.
McCabe also participated in the FBI's investigation of Trump and allegations his campaign colluded with elements linked to the Russian government.
Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May, and McCabe served as interim director prior to Wray's confirmation. Shortly after the Comey firing, McCabe told a congressional committee the FBI had not been obstructed in the Trump-Russia investigation, a claim that is likely to come back to haunt Democrats at a later time.
Trump mentioned the contributions in July in a tweet; he repeated the criticism in December.
Now the House Republicans are stepping up their communication with the public on the Trump-Russia investigation, led by the Justice Department's special counsel, Robert Mueller.
"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?" Trump tweeted in December. But now the House Republicans are stepping up their communication with the public on the Trump-Russia investigation, led by the Justice Department's special counsel, Robert Mueller.
The four-page memo prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, could be key. The memo deals with classified information, and its release could be vetoed by Trump, but he has previously expressed support for making it public.
The memo reportedly details FBI abuses in getting warrants to spy on Trump associates.
Last Modified: January 30, 2018, 9:48 am