News that the FBI’s embattled deputy director, Andrew McCabe, is stepping down broke suddenly today. McCabe has long planned to retire in March, and until recently, FBI Director Chris Wray has protected McCabe, resisting pressure to remove him prematurely. That all changed, however, in recent days—apparently because of something in a forthcoming inspector general report. As the New York Times describes it:
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The defense of democratic institutions, norms, values and culture does not always involve standing up for people who have acted heroically. Stories feel better, of course, when it does—when honor goes to those to whom people rally because they have behaved admirably; when the music swells in our minds and it all feels like a screenplay. But democracies don’t function like neatly-ending screenplays. The characters on whom democracies depend may perform erratically; citizens may not fully understand their conduct or motives; people may not trust them.
Christopher Wray took the oath of office at the FBI yesterday and thus started the clock ticking on a difficult problem he’s going to have to address: the fate of his deputy, Andrew McCabe, who has been serving as acting director since President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey.
This morning at 10:00 ET we are liveblogging the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing on Section 702, the provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act set to sunset at the end of this year.
Senate Judiciary Committee Leadership Requests Briefing from DAG Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director McCabe
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein have requested a briefing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to the full committee on matters related to the Russia investigation, among others. The letter requests that Rosenstein and McCabe contact the committee staff by 5pm today to schedule the briefing.
Grassley and Feinstein's letter is available here and below.
A previously-scheduled Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today on “Worldwide Threats” became the object of unexpected excitement given the recent dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey, as Comey’s interim replacement Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe came before the Committee instead. While McCabe testified alongside Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, DIA Director Lt. Gen.
White House Interference with Justice Department Investigations, Part II: The “Reince, What Are You Doing?” Edition
For the second time this week, we have to analyze the propriety of communications between the White House and elements of the Justice Department. The messiness of the allegations pretty neatly sums up why such communications are, as a matter of policy convention, so restricted to begin with.