FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s sudden decision on Monday to leave the bureau appears to be linked to a forthcoming report from the Justice Department inspector general about the bureau’s investigations during the 2016 election, according to reports from the New York Times and CNN.
McCabe’s departure from the bureau was expected, but not until March, when he would qualify for his full government pension. His surprise decision to leave the FBI on Monday raised questions about pressure he faced to step away from his top position within the bureau.
A former law enforcement official close to McCabe told the New York Times that FBI Director Christopher Wray was concerned about the report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz and discussed moving McCabe to a different position within the FBI. McCabe instead chose to leave the bureau altogether, per the Times.
CNN reported that Wray suggested in a memo to FBI staff that the forthcoming inspector general report played a role in McCabe’s decision to leave, citing sources who saw Wray’s memo. Wray told McCabe that he would be bringing on a new team to lead the FBI, and that McCabe could move to a different position or leave, according to CNN.
The department’s inspector general is investigating several facets of the FBI’s investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email servers and possible collusion between the Trump campaign an Russia during the 2016 election. The inspector general is looking at whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton investigation given that his wife ran a Democratic campaign for public office in 2015. The inspector general is also looking at text message exchanges between F.B.I. officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were involved in both the Clinton and Trump probes.
Past reporting indicates that McCabe was under pressure from the Trump administration to step down. President Donald Trump publicly chastised McCabe over a campaign contribution to his wife from a Clinton ally, and the White House reportedly pressured Wray to fire McCabe.