US President Donald Trump has slammed the FBI as he hailed the firing of a veteran bureau agent as a “great day for democracy,” a move his attorney said he hoped would bring an end to a probe into alleged collusion between the US president’s campaign and Russia.
Critics described the axing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe as a “dangerous” ploy to discredit the top US law enforcement agency as well as the work of special council Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election.
McCabe is a potential key witness in the Russia probe.
Trump on Saturday via Twitter blasted the alleged “tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.”
He also reiterated long-running criticism of the Mueller investigation, terming it a “witch hunt,” and saying that it “should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”
Earlier, Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, told the Daily Beast that he hoped US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would follow the lead of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss [former FBI director] James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier.”
Dowd told the Daily Beast he was speaking for the US president.
However, in a subsequent statement he said he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”
McCabe, who has endured a year of withering attacks from Trump, was late on Friday fired by the US Department of Justice, just two days before he was to retire after 21 years with the FBI.
Critics have said the firing is a step in Trump’s plan to engineer Mueller’s dismissal, potentially sparking a constitutional crisis.
Mueller is also examining whether Trump might have obstructed justice, including by firing Comey in May last year.
US Democratic Representative Mark Pocan on Saturday announced that he offered McCabe a job in his office so he can complete the time necessary to retire with full federal benefits.
“My offer of employment to Mr McCabe is a legitimate offer to work on election security,” Pocan said in a statement.
McCabe’s spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz was non-committal.
“We are considering all options,” she told the Washington Post.
“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy,” Trump tweeted soon after the firing.
McCabe denied any impropriety and said he was the victim of a Trump administration “war” against the FBI and the special counsel.
McCabe kept memos of his interactions with Trump, US media reported on Saturday, adding that the documents could bolster his version of events.
Comey pushed back as well.
“Mr President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” he tweeted.
The department said an internal investigation had found that McCabe made unauthorized disclosures to the media and had not been fully honest “on multiple occasions” with the department’s inspector general.
“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
Lack of candor under oath is a firing offense at the FBI, but the politically charged context of the move raised questions among McCabe’s backers.
Former CIA chief John Brennan lost his patience with Trump.
“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” he tweeted.
Trump, in an early afternoon tweet, belittled the media for its coverage of the story, saying: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired.”
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