Andrew McCabe, Former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Sues Over His Dismissal

Andrew McCabe, Former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Sues Over His Dismissal

WASHINGTON — Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director who was fired for statements he made about communications between the bureau and the press, sued the F.B.I. and the Justice Department on Thursday, alleging that the dismissal was retaliatory and politically motivated.

The Justice Department engaged in a “politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018,” Mr. McCabe said in his lawsuit.

He added that President Trump “purposefully and intentionally” pushed the Justice Department to demote and terminate him as part of an “unconstitutional plan” to discredit and remove Justice Department and F.B.I. employees who were “deemed to be his partisan opponents.”

Mr. McCabe, 51, was also the subject of a scathing Justice Department inspector general report that accused him of violating the bureau’s media policy when he authorized the disclosure of information to the press and of misleading investigators about what he had done.

When he was fired, Mr. McCabe told The New York Times that he had been let go for political reasons. He was among the first F.B.I. officials to ask whether the Trump campaign had questionable ties to Russia and whether Mr. Trump himself had tried to obstruct justice.

“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he told The Times. “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”

Earlier this week, Peter Strzok, the F.B.I. senior counterintelligence agent in the Russia investigations, also sued the Justice Department and the F.B.I. He said in his lawsuit that he had been fired because of political pressure from the president, who was enraged by text messages that showed he had been a harsh critic of Mr. Trump.

“The F.B.I. fired Special Agent Strzok because of his protected political speech in violation of his rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” the lawsuit said. Mr. Strzok said his termination also violated his due process rights.

The Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to comment.

After Mr. McCabe was fired, Mr. Trump took to Twitter, calling his dismissal “A great day for Democracy.”

Mr. McCabe has long said Mr. Trump’s public criticisms of him and his firing were meant to help discredit the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference and any role that the Trump campaign may have played in that activity.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said in his report released this spring that Russia had interfered in the election to benefit Mr. Trump. He said there was not enough evidence to prove that the campaign itself had conspired in that effort, even though it was receptive to help from Russia. Mr. Mueller declined to weigh in on whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice, saying only that he was unable to exonerate the president.

While the F.B.I. deems lack of candor to be a fireable offense, Mr. McCabe fought back against the recommendation that he be dismissed. The 21-year veteran of the F.B.I. appealed to senior career officials at the Justice Department, to no avail.

Mr. McCabe said in his filing that within weeks of Mr. Trump’s swearing-in, he became caught up in the president’s desire to protect himself from the Russia investigation at all costs, which included purging the Justice Department and the F.B.I. of officials perceived to be disloyal or to be Democrats.

After department officials were told that Mr. McCabe would soon be eligible to retire, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Mr. McCabe was “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”

Mr. McCabe said in his lawsuit that this language was meant to convey that the president wanted to fire him before his retirement date.

Candice Will, who oversaw the termination effort for the Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote in a memo the week before the firing that it was unlikely that the bureau would reach “final resolution” before Mr. McCabe’s retirement date. But the timing would ultimately be up to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, she wrote in the memo, which was filed as an exhibit in the lawsuit.

Mr. McCabe claims in his lawsuit that the process to fire him was accelerated, and that he was not able to properly examine and respond to all the evidence in his case.

The week before he was fired, Mr. McCabe said, Scott Schools, the Justice Department’s highest-ranking career official, said in a phone call that the department was not following established protocols in the disciplinary review, but was “making it up as we go along.”

The day before Mr. McCabe was eligible to collect his full government pension, Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, said he would terminate Mr. McCabe “effective immediately” for lack of candor under oath.

In his filing, Mr. McCabe said he hoped his lawsuit would address the “chilling effect” that his firing had on career civil servants who felt at risk of being dismissed for partisan political reasons.

He is seeking to force the Justice Department to allow him to retire as the deputy director of the F.B.I. and an agent in good standing, as planned, and to receive his full pension, health care insurance and other retirement benefits.

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