FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a key and controversial figure in both the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the ongoing allegations of Russian election meddling, was fired last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The firing took place just two days before McCabe was set to retire.
McCabe had initially stepped down in late January but used his paid leave to continue his government service into mid-March in order to accrue enough time in service to receive a full early pension from the government. While the timing of the firing does seem to be, at first glance, a vindictive attempt at disgracing someone who was already on his way out, McCabe’s firing was nonetheless recommended both by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General.
In particular, the DOJ Inspector General’s office cited McCabe’s lack of candor, including under oath. While the report that led to McCabe’s firing has not been made public, lack of candor is a serious offense that would end the career of any FBI agent. Lack of candor means that McCabe was judged to have intentionally tried to mislead or deceive those who were questioning him, without actually saying something demonstrably false.
DOJ’s Inspector General is an Obama appointee who has a reputation for being nonpartisan, so the recommendation to fire McCabe really shouldn’t be seen as politically-motivated retaliation. If anything, the department should have been much quicker in its work to investigate McCabe so that his eventual firing would not be seen as politically-motivated retribution but rather the justified firing of an official who engaged in clear misconduct.
Too much has been made, too, about McCabe not being able to collect his full early pension, as though President Trump is hurting McCabe’s financial security. But in reality, McCabe won’t be hurting for money. He is still only 50 years old and will likely find no difficulty in moving into private practice as an attorney. Retiring and receiving a pension would only have meant that he would have been able to “double dip” - receiving both a salary in his next job as well as his government pension. That’s a practice that many federal “retirees” who move into the private sector take advantage of, even though it undermines the purpose of a pension.
As it is, McCabe will still draw a federal pension, he just won’t be able to begin tapping it for a few more years. Whether or not he’ll face any consequences for his lack of candor or for his role in the witch hunt to find collusion with Russia remains to be seen.