Andrew McCabe deserved to be fired. In order to understand anything about his firing, this must first be understood and accepted. He deserved it. And McCabe himself knew it, pushing up his retirement in order to leave the FBI before the release of a damning Inspector General's report with his pension fully intact.
That report resulted from an investigation that McCabe's own attorney, Michael Bromwich (himself a former FBI Inspector General), called "welcome news" when it was first announced in early 2017.
"The investigation will address allegations that Comey violated established Justice Department and FBI policies and procedures in his July 5, 2016, public announcement concerning the Hillary Clinton email investigation," Bromwich wrote in a guest opinion article in The Washington Post. "And it will explore allegations that Comey’s Oct. 28 and Nov. 6 letters to Congress, which jolted the presidential election — and may have changed its outcome — were improper."
What Bromwich and, presumably, McCabe didn't initially contemplate was the notion that the FBI's Inspector General would ever target McCabe's pattern of leaking information to the press in a clear effort to harm Donald Trump's presidential campaign and presidential administration.
Why would they? The FBI's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, was appointed by President Obama in 2012. The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility is headed by Candace Will, who was appointed to her position by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.
McCabe fairly obviously thought he was among friends, yet his actions clearly demanded that he be fired. As Attorney General Jeff Sessions' statement announcing McCabe's termination made clear:
Both the [Office of the Inspector General] and FBI [Office of Professional Responsibility] reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.
The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability. As the OPR proposal stated, ‘all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand.’
"Lacking candor under oath" is a rather polite way of saying "lying by omission under oath" and, depending on the severity of the deception, can result in criminal charges in addition to professional discipline.
As The Washington Times reported:
“If your candor has been challenged or it has been proven that you lack candor, how can you be any type of formidable witness when you have that hanging over your head?” said Danny Defenbaugh a former agent who has investigated lack of candor cases. “That is why lack of candor for an FBI agent is such an irreplaceable mark against their integrity.”
Lewis Schiliro, a former head of the agency’s New York office, said lack of candor is one of the most common reasons agents get fired.“
The credibility of an FBI agent is critical to doing the job,” he said. “Once you no longer have credibility, you can longer be an FBI agent.”
He and Mr. Defenbaugh said they have seen lack of candor cases that include lying in a criminal report and falsifying an expense account.Sometimes agents also face criminal charges. For example, an agent who submits a false expense report could face charges of defrauding the federal government.
McCabe is accused of leaking information about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation to former Wall Street Journal and current Washington Post reporter Devlin Barrett and then misleading Inspector General's Office investigators about it. In his statement responding to his firing, McCabe denied being untruthful, but admitted to the leak, saying that he did so "to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau, and to make clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed."
This fits into a long pattern of McCabe selectively leaking information to either bolster his own reputation or the reputation of the FBI or to discredit his political enemies.
McCabe, an obvious Democrat partisan, pointedly refused to recuse himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation even though his wife's Virginia State Senate campaign took nearly $400,000 from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe's political action committee. He was eventually removed from the investigation when it was reopened just days before the election.
At about the same time, his top agent on the Clinton email case and the investigation into suspected Trump-Russia collusion, Peter Strzok, was texting back and forth with his lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page, about their leaks to Devlin Barrett.
The Conservative Treehouse reports that just two minutes after a text exchange in which Strzok and Page discuss talking to Barrett about the investigation, Barrett tweeted this:
Strzok and Page, of course, are the FBI agents who made no secret of their utter hatred for then-candidate Trump, even going so far as to text to each other that the Bureau needed to take out "an insurance policy" against the unlikely event that Trump would win the election.
Given that both McCabe and Page (and very likely Strzok as well) leaked to the same reporter and that McCabe said in his statement that "the OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that."
In other words, he felt empowered to leak information--or to have others such as Page leak information--that he determined to be beneficial to the Bureau...and also detrimental to the Trump Administration.
According to FOX News reporter Howard Kurtz's new book Media Madness, in February of 2017, McCabe called a meeting with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince to tell him that a recent New York Times story about secret contact between the Trump campaign and Russia was "total bulls***."
Priebus then suggested that McCabe make a public statement to that effect. Naturally, McCabe didn't, but shortly afterward, a story appeared on CNN that intimated that Priebus had pressured McCabe into going public:
According to ‘multiple U.S. officials,’ the network said, ‘the FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.’
Priebus was stunned by the implication that he was pressuring law enforcement. Had he been set up? Why was the FBI leaking this information when one of its top officials had initiated the conversation?
The answer was painfully clear--the FBI had launched a campaign to discredit the Trump Administration through a series of damaging leaks to the press even though it knew that the information it was leaking was either not verified or simply not true.
Dozens of stories sourced to "FBI sources" or "sources close to the investigation" flooded the media throughout 2017 (many of which were quickly discredited), and since McCabe very clearly saw leaking to the media as a routine part of his job, it appears that McCabe was leading this charge and, critically, did so with the blessing of his boss, former FBI Director James Comey.
McCabe's leak to Devlin Barrett, he said in his statement, "was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter."
This could potentially open Comey to charges of lying under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In a hearing on May 3rd, 2017, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley asked Comey directly if he had ever been an anonymous source in a media report.
"Never," Comey replied.
"Have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?" Grassley asked.
"No," Comey answered.
That, McCabe has now revealed, was a lie. Comey authorized McCabe to be an anonymous source discussing the Clinton investigation with Devlin Barrett. And Comey's assertion that he himself was never an anonymous source was a lie, too, as he revealed just a month after his testimony:
The two highest-ranking officials in the FBI, James Comey and Andrew McCabe, were thus both leaking to the media and lying about it while under oath.
This is utter corruption at the highest levels and warrants a special counsel to investigate just how widespread the cultural rot in the FBI's leadership really was.