- In a phone call right after he fired James Comey as FBI director, President Donald Trump asked the acting director, Andrew McCabe, to ask his wife how it felt to be a loser, NBC News reported.
- McCabe departed the FBI as its deputy director on Monday.
President Donald Trump vented to the Andrew McCabe and mocked his wife in a phone call immediately after firing James Comey as FBI director in May, NBC News reported Monday.
McCabe, the acting director at the time, later became the deputy director of the bureau. He left the FBI on Monday.
Multiple people familiar with the call told NBC News that Trump called McCabe after becoming furious about footage that showed Comey boarding a government-funded plane to Washington, DC, after his firing, which he learned of at an event in Los Angeles.
The sources said that Trump demanded to know why Comey was allowed to take such a flight and that McCabe told the president he had not been asked to authorise the flight but would have if he were.
That was when Trump turned silent for a moment and then suggested to McCabe that he ask his wife how it felt to be a loser, the people said. Jill McCabe ran as a Democrat for a Virginia Senate seat in 2015 but lost.
McCabe responded, “OK, sir,” and Trump hung up the phone, the report said.
Both the White House and the FBI declined to comment to NBC News on the phone call.
Multiple outlets confirmed McCabe’s departure on Monday. A CNN producer and a Fox News report described sources as saying McCabe was told Monday morning to step down and that he was being “removed” from the FBI.
White House distances itself from McCabe’s FBI exit
Trump, who has repeatedly criticised McCabe in recent months, ignored questions shouted at him about the report during a lunch with United Nations Security Council ambassadors, a Bloomberg reporter said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the White House has sought to distance itself from McCabe’s exit.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said during Monday’s press briefing that Trump “wasn’t a part of the decision-making process,” adding that the president stood by all of his previous remarks about McCabe.
In the days before McCabe’s departure, a pair of recent stories detailed Trump’s interactions and relationship with the deputy director.
The Washington Post reported last week that during an Oval Office meeting last year – meant to be an introductory meet-and-greet session after the president fired Comey – Trump asked McCabe who he voted for in the 2016 presidential election.
A former official told The Post that McCabe found the question “disturbing.”
During the meeting, Trump reportedly made pointed remarks about McCabe’s wife and her bid for office. Her campaign received $US675,000 in donations from the Virginia Democratic Party and a super PAC operated by Terry McAuliffe, the former governor who is a close friend of Hillary Clinton’s.
Months after the Virginia election, McCabe became the FBI deputy director, and he later helped lead two investigations related to Clinton, including into her use of a private email server as secretary of state, though he later recused himself from those.
Also last week, the news website Axios, citing three sources, reported that FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to resign after Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressured him, at Trump’s urging, to fire McCabe.
McCabe had become Trump’s favourite target
Trump has for months taken aim at McCabe on Twitter, often falsely claiming that McCabe was investigating Clinton while his wife was accepting campaign donations linked to her.
Last month, Trump, apparently quoting a Fox News segment, tweeted: “FBI’s Andrew McCabe, ‘in addition to his wife getting all of this money from M (Clinton Puppet), he was using, allegedly, his FBI Official Email Account to promote her campaign. You obviously cannot do this. These were the people who were investigating Hillary Clinton.'”
Earlier, he went after McCabe and Comey, tweeting: “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 $US700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
“FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” Trump tweeted.
Fox News reported that on Sunday, Wray viewed a Republican memo alleging surveillance abuse by McCabe, Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The White House has for weeks pushed for McCabe’s exit, saying he is emblematic of systemic bias against Trump within the Justice Department. Opponents say the attacks against DOJ leaders are aimed at undermining the federal investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
McCabe is just the latest official to call it quits or to appear to be forced out of the Justice Department since Trump took office last year.
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