Trump's slow-motion massacre at the Justice Department

Comey is gone. McCabe is going. Rosenstein could be next.

Purging justice.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Image courtesy iStock)

It's not quite the Saturday Night Massacre, but there may well be something of a slow-motion purge underway at the Justice Department, in which those in key positions whose loyalty to President Trump is less than absolute are pushed out the door. Monday we learned that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who had aroused the ire of the ever-petulant occupant of the Oval Office by being married to someone who once ran for state office as a Democrat, is stepping down. This is just the beginning.

Just last week it was reported that when McCabe became acting director of the Bureau after James Comey's firing, Trump asked him in a meeting who he voted for in 2016. It's one of those stunningly inappropriate things that would be a major scandal with any other president, but that we've gotten numb to with Trump. Apparently McCabe's answer — that he hadn't voted — wasn't good enough, just as Trump didn't get the answer he wanted from Comey when he demanded a pledge of loyalty. So McCabe too became a target, with the president posting tweets demanding that he be sacked. We also learned that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe — which it isn't hard to interpret as a way for Sessions to get back in Trump's good graces, given how often Trump has complained about Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation and therefore not being able to protect Trump in the way he believes is proper. Indeed, McCabe told friends that he's leaving because of pressure Wray was applying to him.

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Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a senior writer with The American Prospect magazine and a blogger for The Washington Post. His writing has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and web sites, and he is the author or co-author of four books on media and politics.