During a Saturday morning interview on CNN, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) harshly criticized the Trump administration’s decision to fire former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, adding that he doesn’t think it bodes well for his party.
“Candidly, it looks like retribution and a bit vindictive,” Dent said. “And I think it’s unfortunate. The man said he’s resigning, and on a Friday night before his 50th birthday, he’s fired to take away his pension? I don’t like the optics of this. I really don’t.”
Dent said he thinks the attorney general made the decision under pressure from President Trump. Trump has repeatedly publicly demanded that Sessions fire McCabe, who is potentially a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president for possible obstruction of justice.
“I have to tell you, it looks like the attorney general may have been browbeaten into this,” Dent added. “He’s been publicly humiliated and shamed by the president on multiple occasions, and I just don’t think this bodes well.”
Dent linked McCabe’s firing with his party’s struggles in recent special elections — including the loss of a seat in a deep-red district in his home state last Tuesday.
“We just had a special election on Tuesday. And all this continuing chaos and drama that we’re seeing with the Tillerson firing, the McCabe firing, Stormy Daniels, all this stuff, this is having an impact on Republicans down ballot. If people didn’t get the message on Tuesday, I hope they get it now.”
“This is 5-alarm fire,” Dent added. “We simply just can’t dismiss the election on Tuesday to local events… It’s about these larger issues of this toxic political environment we find ourselves in.”
Dent also questioned the wisdom of Republican attacks on law enforcement agencies, noting that while Trump has “been battling with the FBI and certain elements of the intelligence community for some time,” he doesn’t think it’s “in the interests of the Republican Party.”
“I always had the sense that the rank and file of the FBI had pretty high regard for Mr. Comey,” Dent said. “I don’t know what their relationship was with Mr. McCabe. I hadn’t heard terrible things. I guess the point I’m making is Comey and McCabe seem to have some respect within the FBI by the rank and file, so I’m not sure what the message is that the president is sending there.”
Dent, who is in his seventh term and is not seeking reelection, is the former chair of the House Ethics Committee. In January, he criticized members of his own party — including Trump — for publicy suggesting there’s an anti-Trump cabal within the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, saying, “We need to get behind law enforcement, show some respect here, and move away from these conspiracy theories.”
“I’ve never heard of an administration, a president attacking his own government. But that’s essentially what’s happening,” he said. “And I think my colleagues ought to cease and desist from some of this rhetoric against our law enforcement officials who are very professional and thorough.”