WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House denied involvement Monday after news broke that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told staffers this morning that he is stepping down from his post, effective immediately.
“None of this decision was made by that of the White House and any specifics I would refer you to the FBI, who I believe will be making a statement later today,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this afternoon after President Donald Trump ignored a reporter’s question about McCabe’s departure.
The FBI and White House have not responded to emails seeking comment, and there has been no formal statement on McCabe’s departure, which NBC News broke this morning, citing multiple officials familiar with the matter.
After 22 years at the FBI, McCabe will reportedly ride out accumulated leave time beginning today until he becomes eligible for his full pension in mid-March, two months shy of his 50th birthday, at which point he will retire. Though the Washington Post reported on McCabe’s retirement plans back in December, his use of leave time was not expected.
The FBI has been led by Christopher Wray since Aug. 1, but President Trump tapped McCabe briefly as acting FBI director upon firing James Comey.
Spurred by allegations of political bias among senior leaders at the FBI, Trump is said to have ramped up pressure on McCabe over his involvement in the ongoing investigation of possible collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia to manipulate the last presidential election.
As reported earlier this month by the Washington Post, Trump lashed out after hearing that a political action committee aligned with Hillary Clinton provided campaign funds to McCabe’s wife for a failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid.
The Post also reported that, after President Trump fired Comey from the FBI, he called McCabe into the Oval Office and asked whom he cast his vote for in the 2016 election. McCabe reportedly said that he did not vote.
Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to air his issues with McCabe, as far back as July.
“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got … big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” the president tweeted.
The posts have continued as the GOP’s attacks on the FBI have escalated.
“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phone Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” the president tweeted on Dec. 23.
Democrats and some Republicans have downplayed accusations of bias at the FBI and among former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election meddling and possible Trump coordination with that effort, saying that the attacks are meant to discredit the outcome of Mueller’s investigation.
The Department of Justice declined to comment on McCabe’s departure, deferring to the FBI.