FBI deputy director targeted by Trump is stepping down from his position

Andrew McCabe will leave the bureau a month and a half before his initial scheduled departure date.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee with the other heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies, May 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee with the other heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies, May 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will step down from his position at the bureau a little more than one month earlier than scheduled, NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams reported on Monday. An FBI official confirmed to ThinkProgress on Monday afternoon that McCabe will be taking leave until his original retirement date in mid-March.

The decision comes on the heels of a report by the Washington Post, published in December, that indicated that McCabe would be retiring from the FBI in mid-March.

The FBI did not immediately confirm the news, and it was unclear exactly what had prompted McCabe to take leave early. Sources speaking with CBS News claimed that McCabe, who has been targeted by President Trump in the past for his connection to the ongoing Russia investigation, had been “forced to step down.”

An Axios report on January 23 stated that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had pressured current FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe. In response, Wray reportedly threatened to resign, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.


According to Axios, “Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn about how upset Wray was about the pressure on him to fire McCabe, and McGahn told Sessions this issue wasn’t worth losing the FBI Director over.”

CNN reported on Monday afternoon that Associate Deputy Director of the FBI David Bowdich will replace McCabe as deputy director.

McCabe first attracted the president’s ire in May 2017, shortly after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. McCabe, at that point acting director of the FBI, met the president in the Oval Office for a “get-to-know-you meeting” during which the two exchanged small talk. Trump then asked McCabe whom he had voted for in the 2016 election, according to a report by the Washington Post on Tuesday.

According to several anonymous current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the conversation, McCabe responded by saying he had not voted.

The Post also reported that Trump, in that same conversation, targeted McCabe’s wife, Jill, who in 2015 accepted $500,000 in donations for her state Senate campaign from a Democratic PAC associated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is close friends with the Clintons. Republicans initially argued that McCabe, who later oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, had an obvious conflict of interest and should have recused himself from the matter. Trump himself later blamed McCabe for the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton over the email scandal, suggesting that it was quid pro quo for the PAC’s donation to McCabe’s wife.


Documents released by the FBI this month showed that McCabe had followed protocol in notifying the bureau in March 2015 of his wife’s intent to run for state Senate. He was not in charge of overseeing the investigation until after he was appointed deputy director in February 2016.

Shortly after McCabe announced his retirement plans in December, Trump targeted the outgoing deputy director in a series of tweets, drudging up the donations controversy.


“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 a follow-up tweet, he added, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

As ThinkProgress reported at the time, it was not clear whether Trump was “cheering McCabe to a faster retirement, concern trolling about whether he would earn a full pension, or simply threatening him.”

McCabe is considered a key witness in the ongoing Russia investigation. In mid-December, he testified before the House Intelligence Committee, where he stated that he and former FBI Director Comey had discussed Comey’s conversations with Trump prior to his dismissal in May 2017. Comey previously testified before lawmakers that the president had asked for him for loyalty and requested that the FBI drop its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December.

If McCabe’s account is true, it means he is likely able to corroborate Comey’s testimony, making him a crucial figure in any investigations into obstruction of justice involving the president.

This is a breaking news story and has been updated as more information became available.