As one-by-one Trump seems to be draining the real swamp, most recently exemplified by what The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, calls The McCabe March Madness…
For a microcosm of the current madness of American politics, look no further than the weekend meltdown after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe late Friday.
Mr. Sessions acted on a recommendation by the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility, but Democrats and the media ignored that and called the firing part of Donald Trump’s plot to undermine the FBI and steal American democracy.
Mr. Trump then seemingly tried to confirm the accusations with a Twitter fusillade hailing Mr. McCabe’s firing and escalating without cause to attack special counsel Robert Mueller. Which triggered another round of claims that Mr. Trump’s days in office are numbered, or should be.
As Mr. Trump and his antagonists drive each other insane, it’s hard to keep your eye on what matters.
Start with the obligation of FBI agents to tell the truth. Mr. Sessions’s statement was a straightforward explanation that he fired Mr. McCabe for a serious violation of duty.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General has been examining the department’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server – a probe demanded by Democrats on grounds that former FBI Director James Comey’s 2016 intervention cost her the election. The IG uncovered “allegations of misconduct” by Mr. McCabe, Mr. Sessions’s statement said, which it forwarded to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) that is composed of career officials.
Mr. Sessions added that both the IG and OPR reports “concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor—including under oath—on multiple conclusions. 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.’”
Ergo, Mr. McCabe had to be fired.
The IG’s report remains secret, and we hope it will become public shortly. But if Mr. Sessions’s summary is accurate, failing to fire Mr. McCabe would have been a terrible signal to the bureau’s agents.
Every agent at some point or another in a career is likely to testify in court. If a deputy director can get away with fudging answers, then every agent will assume he can too. The reference to “under oath” is also significant, since the FBI often charges people with the felony of making false statements without being under oath. The IG and OPR must have felt Mr. McCabe’s lack of candor was serious enough to warrant making him swear to tell the truth.
In response to his firing, Mr. McCabe said that “I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them.” He added that “to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair.”
The rest of his statement was devoted to blaming the OPR recommendation on Mr. Trump “and this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation.” But Mr. McCabe knows that OPR lawyers aren’t Trump partisans and its director was appointed by Mr. Mueller when he was running the FBI in 2004.
All of which should have been cause for Mr. Trump to let the dismissal speak for itself, but the President is too self-involved for such restraint. Instead he tweeted on Saturday, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy.”
He later blasted Mr. Comey, among others. And, for bad measure, his lawyer John Dowd suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should stop Mr. Mueller’s probe. Mr. Trump then attacked Mr. Mueller for hiring Democratic prosecutors.
Naturally, Mr. McCabe and his partisans let it be known that he had shared with Mr. Mueller memos that he had written after his meetings with Mr. Trump. Oh, and John Brennan, Barack Obama’s CIA director, tweeted in response to Mr. Trump’s tweet that, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”
Our politics really is debased when a former intelligence chief intimates that a President will be destroyed based on some information yet to be disclosed. Would he mind sharing what he knows on the record rather than leaking it to his press-corps pals? The not-so-subtle threats from Messrs. Brennan, Comey and McCabe will persuade many Trump voters that they and others are out to destroy the President no matter the truth.
The country should be waiting for the facts of the multiple investigations to come out and then make a political judgment. Instead the brawl over the 2016 election has become a blood feud in which the facts seem irrelevant.
This is going to get a lot uglier before it’s over.