Andrew McCabe: why top FBI official targeted by Trump is suing the bureau

Frequent target of Trump vitriol claims his sacking was part of presidential purge

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The former FBI deputy director who authorised an investigation into Donald Trump’s ties with Russia is suing the bureau and the Justice Department (DOJ) over allegations that he was fired as a result of “constitutionally improper motives”.

Andrew McCabe filed a lawsuit on Wednesday outlining his claims that he was illegally ousted as part of a plot by the president to remove officials not loyal to him, reports The Washington Post.

McCabe was dismissed from his role as acting chief of the US intelligence agency in March 2018 just hours before he was due to formally retire - causing him to lose key benefits.

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The lawsuit

McCabe was sacked by then attorney general Jeff Sessions after an internal review found he had leaked information and then lied to investigators. However, his lawsuit alleges that his firing was politically motivated and in violation of his right to free speech and due process, reports the Daily Mail.

The legal papers claim that Trump threatened senior officials at the DOJ - including Sessions, his deputy Rod Rosenstein, and inspector general Michael Horowitz - in order to “induce their compliance with Trump’s desires”.

“Trump demanded Plaintiff’s [McCabe’s] personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and Sessions, Wray, and others served as Trump’s personal enforcers rather than the nation’s highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump’s unlawful whims instead of honouring their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” says the lawsuit.

McCabe wants a judge to declare his sacking illegal and restore him to a status where he would receive “his full earned law enforcement pension, healthcare insurance, and other retirement benefits”.

His legal action follows that of former FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who was fired over anti-Trump texts that he allegedly exchanged with agency colleagues during the presidential election.

Trump target

The US president had hinted that McCabe’s days were numbered back in December 2017, tweeting: “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

The lawsuit claims that a series of equally angry tweets by Trump about McCabe pushed officials to sack the FBI deputy chief to prove their loyalty to the president.

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” according to the legal documents, which add that McCabe’s firing “was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme”.

McCabe has continued to clash with the president following his sacking. In April this year, Trump branded McCabe’s behaviour “illegal and treasonous” following a TV interview in which the former FBI man claimed then deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had held talks in 2017 about invoking a clause that can remove a president deemed unfit, reports the BBC.

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