The number two man at the FBI stepped down Monday and may have been removed from his job, fueling speculation about an explosive congressional memo that could soon be released.
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was near retirement, but his departure comes earlier than expected, and one day after his boss, FBI Director Christopher Wray, viewed a 4-page memo suggesting serious abuse of government surveillance laws that named McCabe and others.
The memo, put together by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), is believed to detail how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sought renewal of a FISA court-authorized surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Also reportedly named in the memo is McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey.
Fox News reports McCabe was removed by Wray who once threatened to resign if McCabe was ever forced out by the White House.
The memo summarizes parts of an impending inspector general’s report on the Hillary Clinton email server investigation, which McCabe led and which resulted in no charges against Clinton.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, blasted the decision to release the memo.
“Today this committee voted to put the president’s personal interest, perhaps their own political interest, above the national interest,” Schiff told reporters.
But House Republicans who have seen the memo, like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), say it should be released so people can make up their own minds.
“Having read this memo, I think it would be appropriate that the public has full view of it,” McCarthy told NBC.
Much of the media coverage has followed the Democrat’s line, suggesting McCabe quit because of heavy criticism from President Trump. But Republicans believe McCabe left because knew he was going to get “slammed” in the inspector general’s report.
The president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted, “Strange timing. “Stepping down” the day after FBI brass sees the memo.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 29, 2018
The Nunes memo will be made public as long as President Trump does not explicitly object within the next five days. The White House has indicated Trump might support the release of the memo, but wasn’t specific how Trump would decide.