FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, arguably one of President Donald Trump’s least favorite people in the agency, is stepping down just months before he was expected to retire.
According to multiple reports, the career civil servant, who became deputy director in 2016 and was a frequent target of the president and Republicans, announced his departure, effective Monday, and will remain on the payroll using accumulated leave until he’s able to draw full benefits in March.
Here’s how The Hill explains the ongoing tension between McCabe, Trump and the GOP, which undoubtedly led to his decision to step down:
McCabe oversaw the controversial investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The GOP has accused him of a conflict of interest in that case because his wife accepted nearly $500,000 in political donations from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe in a state legislature bid that predated the investigation.
The Washington Post reported, in December, McCabe’s intention to retire when he became eligible for pension benefits in early March. Trump, who has been among McCabe’s fiercest critics, characterized the move as “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”
A spokesperson for the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump, as early as July, had called for McCabe’s ouster, demanding, “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation?”
“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” he tweeted in December.
The Washington Post reports that after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he asked McCabe during a closed-door meeting whom he voted for during the 2016 election.
The Hill notes that because McCabe is a civil servant, it was almost impossible to fire him unless there was clear evidence that he’d done something wrong.
It’s unclear why McCabe decided to retire just months from his retirement, or whether scrutiny over his tenure had intensified. According to CNN, there have been conflicting reports as to what actually took place:
Various sources described McCabe’s departure as a mutual decision, while others said it was the result of pressure to step down. One source briefed on the matter said McCabe announced his decision to senior executives and portrayed it as his choice.
One source told the news network that McCabe’s sudden announcement was not in the plans as of Friday. “He had enough of being undermined and criticized,” another source said. But Trump and the administration were “not happy” with him, the same source said, CNN reports.
Trump did not respond when questioned about McCabe’s “stepping aside”—which appears to be the company line.
Clearly, this was never going to work. Can anyone blame McCabe for leaving this Beverly Hillbillies administration?