WASHINGTON (CN) – Andrew McCabe, who served as the FBI’s second-highest official, claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that the agency fired him on the same night he planned to retire after he refused to swear personal allegiance to President Donald Trump.
Calling top officials including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions the president’s “personal enforcers,” McCabe argues that he was wrongfully terminated after more than 21 years serving his country. He had held the position of deputy director.
“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him. Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme,” according to the complaint filed in Washington, D.C., federal court.
Just five hours after he walked out the door on March 16, 2018, to begin his two-month “terminal leave” before officially retiring, McCabe says he learned of his dismissal from late-night press reports on Sessions’ announcement.
“This purported termination was a political maneuver with no legal basis,” the lawsuit states.
McCabe’s lawsuit comes two days after Peter Strzok, the FBI’s former assistant deputy director, brought similar claims against the agency. Strozk alleges his firing was a direct response to disparaging tweets from Trump directed at him.
Like Strzok, McCabe hangs his case on the president’s desire to undercut the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Dating back to the campaign trail, the lawsuit outlines, Trump was singling out McCabe based on false allegations of left-leaning political ties.
Fixating on McCabe’s wife, who had lost a race for Virginia state office in 2016, Trump accused McCabe of also being a Democrat. The attacks amplified after Trump took office, the lawsuit argues, with the president continuing to allege that while working on the Russia investigation, McCabe was biased against the president and held ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
McCabe long denied the claims, and did so again in Thursday’s lawsuit.
“Trump’s repeated public and private statements are direct evidence of Trump’s perception of plaintiff’s partisan affiliation, Trump’s attribution of plaintiff’s wife’s political activity to plaintiff based solely upon their marriage, and Trump’s constitutionally improper motives for removing plaintiff from the career civil service,” the complaint states.
Testifying to Congress last month, former special counsel Robert Mueller defended the integrity of FBI agents involved in the investigation, in the face of Republican accusations of compromising links to the Clinton campaign.
“I’ve been in this business for almost 25 years. In those 25 years, I have not had occasion once to ask somebody’s political affiliation,” Mueller said. “It is not done.”
Jill McCabe, who returned to a career as an emergency room pediatrician after her campaign loss, responded to her husband’s firing in the Washington Post.
“Ultimately I believe it somehow never occurred to them that I could be a serious, independent-minded physician who wanted to run for office for legitimate reasons,” she wrote in April 2018. “They rapidly jumped to the conclusion that I must be corrupt, as part of what I believe to be an effort to vilify us to suit their needs.”
As with Strzok’s case filed Tuesday, McCabe argues the FBI violated his right to due process.
McCabe further warns that if his wrongful termination is not addressed in court, it will create a “chilling effect” on other civil servants who are entitled to free political expression.
Proclaiming his belief that the U.S. government remains “a government of laws, and not of men,” McCabe calls on the courts to allow him to retire as an agent in good standing with full benefits, expunging from his file all records relating to his firing.
The Justice Department and attorneys from Arnold and Porter representing McCabe did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment.
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