FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is abruptly stepping down from the FBI amid pressure and after months of scathing attacks from President Trump and some of his political supporters. A new NBC News report reveals that Trump excoriated McCabe for subjects ranging from his wife’s politics to former FBI director James Comey’s plane trip home.
Multiple people told NBC News’s Carol E. Lee that Trump called McCabe the day after Comey’s firing; he was reportedly furious that Comey took a government-funded plane back from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, after he was let go. (Comey is said to have learned from TV coverage that he was out of a job.) According to NBC:
Trump demanded to know why Comey was allowed to fly on an FBI plane after he had been fired, these people said. McCabe told the president he hadn’t been asked to authorize Comey’s flight, but if anyone had asked, he would have approved it, three people familiar with the call recounted to NBC News.
This answer apparently didn’t sit well with the president, as according to NBC, he went “silent for a moment” and then laid into McCabe, “suggesting he ask his wife how it feels to be a loser.” The dig was an apparent reference to his wife, Jill McCabe, and her failed Democratic campaign for Virginia state legislature in 2015.
McCabe responded “Okay, sir.” Trump reportedly hung up on him.
The White House and the FBI both declined to comment to NBC News about the phone call.
The report is the latest example of Trump’s displeasure with McCabe, who served as acting FBI director after Trump’s firing. The Washington Post reported last week that in a White House meeting the president had questioned McCabe on who he voted for in 2016. He also reportedly vented his anger about McCabe’s wife, who had received a donation from a political action committee associated with then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an ally of Hillary Clinton.
McCabe’s departure comes after Trump and his allies have attacked him for bias, which escalated in recent weeks after McCabe’s name popped up in text messages sent by FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe over evidence of anti-Trump positions.
McCabe had planned to retire in March, but suddenly stepped aside amid mounting pressure, including from FBI Director Christopher Wray, reports the New York Times.