Autopsy of the McCabe scandal, a peek behind the D.C. curtain

Summary: We can learn much from political news coverage. Not the stories, which are mostly chaff. But the dance of journalists and politicians reveals much about how our system works. It’s nothing like we were taught as children, because they treat us like children. We can change this if we choose to make the effort.

Crime and Scandal

Democrat’s latest thing is to denounce the firing of FBI FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe. Their reasons are vague. Did Trump do it as retaliation, as part of his war on the FBI? Or is this the Democrat’s round of the scandal game begun in the Reagan era, with the parties taking turns. After all, our two major parties agree on so many policies — foreign wars, domestic surveillance, big defense spending, light treatment of Wall Street, and subsidies for mega-corps — only screaming about scandals can keep the faithful fervent. Benghazi! Benghazi! RussiaGate! RussiaGate!

Just for fun, let’s review the facts as we know them today. Let’s attempt to take this seriously. As usual, facts first – good stuff at the end.

Not the Director of the FBI and his assistant.

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux
Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. By Mark Seliger for Vanity Fair, 2017.

Statement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe.  Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.

The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and accountability.  As the OPR proposal stated, ‘all FBI employees know that lacking candor under oath results in dismissal and that our integrity is our brand.’

Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately. {From Reuters.}

Making false statements to the FBI is a felony punishable with up to a five-year prison sentence.

Lisa Marie Boothe on Fox News about McCabe
Lisa Marie Boothe on Fox News. Providing entertainment for the poorly informed.

The defense speaks

Andrew McCabe served in the FBI from 1996 until March 16. He was the FBI’s deputy director from 2016 to January, and was acting director from May to August 2017. Here is the core of his defense, an excerpt from his WaPo op-ed. In style, it is quite like Nixon’s famous “Checkers” speech (a successful defense after getting caught in financial improprieties. Nixon defended his actions, talked about his long service and his family – plus his dog, Checkers – and attacked his opponents. McCabe did not mention his dog.

“I have been accused of ‘lack of candor.’ That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. When asked about contacts with a reporter that were fully within my power to authorize as deputy director, and amid the chaos that surrounded me, I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted – and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor.”

It’s too early to say that.………

Laura Ingraham about McCabe firing

What’s going on?

Most of the commentary about this incident is the usual partisan chaff. For actual information, see this analysis at Lawfare by Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes. It acknowledges the limits of what we know, and debunks many of the claims by Democrats about the process of McCabe’s firing. The forms were followed. The people involved were either career officials or Obama appointees. Soon we will learn more.

“Anyone who is confidently pronouncing on the merits of Andrew McCabe’s firing Friday night is venturing well beyond the realm of known facts. …

“The FBI takes telling the truth extremely seriously: ‘lack of candor’ from employees is a fireable offense – and people are fired for it. Moreover, it doesn’t take an outright lie to be dismissed. , the bureau fired an agent after he initially gave an ambiguous statement to investigators as to how many times he had picked up his daughter from daycare in an FBI vehicle. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit  when he appealed, finding that “lack of candor is established by showing that the FBI agent did not ‘respond fully and truthfully’ to the questions he was asked.”

“Consider also that although Sessions made the ultimate call to fire McCabe, the public record shows that the process resulting in the FBI deputy director’s dismissal involved career Justice Department and FBI officials – rather than political appointees selected by President Trump – at crucial points along the way. To begin with, the charges against McCabe arose out of the broader Justice Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. While the inspector general is appointed by the president, the current head of that office, Michael Horowitz, was appointed by President Barack Obama and is himself a former career Justice Department lawyer.

, the inspector general has a great deal of statutory independence, which Horowitz has not hesitated to use: Most notably, he produced a highly critical 2012 report into the Justice Department’s ‘Fast and Furious’ program. So a process that begins with Horowitz and his office carries a presumption of fairness and independence.

“After investigating McCabe, Horowitz’s office provided a report on McCabe’s conduct to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which investigates allegations of misconduct against bureau employees. This office is headed by , whom then-FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed to lead the OPR in 2004. According to Sessions, the Office of Professional Responsibility agreed with Horowitz’s assessment that McCabe “lacked candor” in speaking to internal investigators.

“Finally, Sessions’s statement references ‘the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official’ in advocating McCabe’s firing on the basis of the OIG and OPR determinations. (The official in question appears to be .)

“So while Sessions made the decision to dismiss McCabe, career officials or otherwise independent actors were involved in conducting the investigation into the deputy director and recommending his dismissal on multiple levels.”

Also: he has not “lost his pension”, as many stories say. He probably will lose some benefits. But his pension as an FBI bureaucrat will still be far better than almost everybody else in America gets. See details here.

Contrast this with the treatment of Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI

In today’s paper, the Editors of the Wall Street Journal complain about the hypocritical treatment of McCade and Flynn by Democrat’s and journalists. This is bizarre, but quite typical of them. Flynn was caught making multiple hard-core lies to FBI agents, proven by wire taps. He was also guilty of gross stupidity. As a retired Lt. General and former National Security Advisor, he should have suspected that the intel agencies would be monitoring the Russian’s telephones.

See the Department of Justice’s statement of his offense and his plea bargain.

Liberals scream about McCabe’s firing. That’s odd.

FBI lies about Martin Luther King Jr.

Liberals new love of our foreign wars and the Deep State is one of the strange deeds that give our era its Alice in Wonderland feel. The FBI has long been a foe of Liberals. In the past, FBI agents fought the civil rights and anti-war movements with a wide range of dirty tricks. In recent years they worked against Black Lives Matters. Caitlin Johnstone states the case with her usual brutal honesty: “On The 50th Anniversary Of MLK’s Death, Remember That The FBI Are Pure Scum.” Plus there is the FBI’s famously weird priorities: “Is the FBI cleaning up college basketball, or wasting its time?”  Spoiler: they are wasting their time and our money.

Even odder is the Liberals’ focus, or obsession, on Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI! RussiaGate, which increasingly resemble not just “inside baseball” (of little or no interest to the public), but Ahab’s pursuit of the White Whale. Meanwhile Trump’s apparatchiks, the GOP-run Congress, and the GOP-dominated Supreme Courts are quietly making America a nation of Plutocrats, run by Plutocrats, for Plutocrats. The evidence is clearly seen in Gallup’s weekly poll of Trump’s job approval. It has been stable since mid-May, and is now at the high end of its range. That is impressive after two years of saturation bombing by most of the major influence centers in America. Perhaps they should try a different approach, such as focusing on opposing his policies and proposing alternatives.

Gallup poll of Trump Job approval.

Conclusions

Perhaps Mueller will pull a rabbit out of his hat and destroy Trump. Perhaps Trump’s health will force his resignation. Most likely in my estimation, is that Trump’s administration is in a process of slow collapse brought about by his incompetence at the job and deteriorating performance under pressure.

"Change" signal

A history of unsuccessful smears of Trump

Nothing has worked, but Democrats try and try again. They are the “Anything But Policy” party.

  1. Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.
  2. The Left calls Trump an ‘authoritarian’, a false & futile attempt to suppress populism.
  3. The Left calls Trump a fascist instead of focusing on the issues. It’s why they lose.
  4. Does Donald Trump have a perverted attraction to Ivanka? Details of a smear.
  5. Did Trump have a perverted attraction to 12-year old Paris Hilton? Details of a smear.
  6. The hidden details of the October surprise about Trump’s “sexual assaults”.
  7. The moral panic over Trump’s lewd remarks reveals much about us — about the Arianne Zucker incident.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, about Trump and the new populism, about RussiaGateabout impeachment, and especially these…

  1. Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this.
  2. Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy.
  3. Debunking RussiaGate, attempts to stop the new Cold War.
  4. These are the last days of Trump. Next: the rise of Pence.

Books about impeachment in America – and the case against Trump.

The Case for Impeachment
Available at Amazon.

One of the best introductions to impeachment in modern American politics is The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture since 1960 (2008) by the historian David E. Kyvig (deceased). For more background see these five books about the process and history of impeachment in America.

The latest and most provocative book on this subject is Allan Lichtman’s The Case for Impeachment, released in April. He is a professor of history at American University. From the publisher…

“In the fall of 2016, Lichtman made headlines when he predicted that Trump would defeat the heavily favored Democrat, Hillary Clinton. Now, in clear, nonpartisan terms, Lichtman lays out the reasons Congress could remove Trump from the Oval Office: his ties to Russia before and after the election, the complicated financial conflicts of interest at home and abroad, and his abuse of executive authority.

The Case for Impeachment also offers a fascinating look at presidential impeachments throughout American history, including the often-overlooked story of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment, details about Richard Nixon’s resignation, and Bill Clinton’s hearings. Lichtman shows how Trump exhibits many of the flaws (and more) that have doomed past presidents. As the Nixon Administration dismissed the reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as “character assassination” and “a vicious abuse of the journalistic process,” Trump has attacked the “dishonest media,” claiming, “the press should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Historians, legal scholars, and politicians alike agree: we are in politically uncharted waters – the durability of our institutions is being undermined and the public’s confidence in them is eroding, threatening American democracy itself. Most citizens – politics aside – want to know where the country is headed. Lichtman argues, with clarity and power, that for Donald Trump’s presidency, smoke has become fire.”

Read the first chapter here.

26 thoughts on “Autopsy of the McCabe scandal, a peek behind the D.C. curtain

  1. Excerpt from The Purging of Andrew McCabe: Truth, Justice and the Stalinist Way by Howard Bitterman (available at Amazon).

    “At his trial in 1938 Nicholai Bukharin stated, “The confession of the accused is a medieval principle of jurisprudence”. So who the hell was Nicholai Bukharin? Bukharin was an associate of Lenin, a founding father as it were, of the Soviet Union,who fell out with Stalin and was imprisoned, tried and executed at his direction. It should be noted Bukharin did in fact confess, under extreme duress, to crimes he did not commit.

    “Bukharin was one of a large number of Communist leaders tried and executed in Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’ of the 1930’s. All of these victims under torture and/or threats to their families confessed to fantastic improbable crimes of which they were surely innocent. A select group of Westerners were invited to witness these trials and many of them concluded that these formerly prominent individuals would not have confessed unless they were truly guilty.

    A similar logic pervades the discussion of Andrew McCabe’s firing. Michael E Horowitz is ‘apolitical’ and an honorable man (‘so are they all honorable men’). Note that Horowitz was appointed by former President Obama and now serves at the pleasure of President Trump. Candice Will (head of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility) is a career civil servant as is Scott Schools (Associate Deputy Attorney General). Surely, an apolitical IG and career civil servants would not recommend the firing of an innocent man.

    Anyone who says the firing of Andrew McCabe was done according to the book and was undertaken devoid of pressure from President Trump is either a liar or a moron. …

    1. Bill,

      Americans will do anything — whine, advocate pie-in-the-sky solutions, close our eyes — to avoid having to work the political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders. To hind our failures, we blame others. Anyone. Putin, the people we elected, the political party we don’t like. We should make “It’s Not Our Fault” the national motto and put it on coins, since “E pluribus unum” doesn’t well fit anymore.

    2. Rando,

      “Blameless Forever!” That’s much more classy than “It’s Not My Fault!” And in Latin.

      In a just and rational world, your proposal would spread like wildfire. You would go down in history as the creator of the new national motto, next to Betsy Ross in America’s pantheon of heroes.

    3. Att: Larry Kummer It is apparent that you are only interested in those parts of the Lawfare article which support your own point of view.

      The first portion of the article states, in simple terms, that we will be unable to judge the justification offered for McCabe’s firing until the IG’s report is made public. It also, as you point out, states considerable credibility should be given to the IG, OPR and the Associate Attorney General. As I stated previously this is clearly in opposition to my own point of view.

      However, the second portion states “…But we are unaware of prior cases in which the authorities rushed through the merits against a long serving official in a naked and transparent effort to beat the clock of his retirement …”

      and
      “… In the end such action taints the action against McCabe. …”

      Your comment “It says nothing to support that belief’

      One of us has a problem with straightforward English prose and it isn’t me.

  2. I find Mr Bitterman’s attempt to compare McCabe fate as a nexus to Stalin’s show trials, contemptible and nothing less than an emotional hyperbole.

    The poster apparently does not concern himself with any standards relating to morals and ethics. The feeble quote by Conman Schiff should rise questions as to the impartiality
    of the Mr Bitterman’s arguments; as the former is a well known liar, specious by mature and a dogma driven hack.

    McCabe, did lie or obfuscated material facts – over and over again,which will be discovered as the FBIgate probe continues. McCabe, will also be found party to obstruction of justice and other chargeable offences. McCabe, did not discharge his responsibilities as lawmen are required, but was clearly part and parcel of a political cabal, to whitewash any investigations into his like minded “friends.”

    Much of the FBI hierarchy has become corrupt and politicalized, of which McCabe is a central figure. Time and time, the bureau has refused to submit requested documentations by lawsuits and various CONgressional investigative committees. The need for a second “special” prosecutor is not only badly needed but way overdue.

    What has been Stalinized in WDC, are the eight years of policializion of governmental units, under Saul Alinsky’s protege, Obomba. Any attempt to defend this crook, cop McCabe, would only be those whom wish to continue the charade and opaqueness.

    The FBI; NSA; EPA; IRS; FISA court are your friends, unless one had chosen the wong side.

    1. Bill,

      I think you are being (commendably) too kind to the FBI. It has long been both politicized, incompetent and corrupt. They used illegal methods against the civil rights and antiwar movements, but ignored organized crime until the public forced them to act.

      They have a long history of incompetent and corrupt behavior, as in the FBI crime lab scandal.

      They are not the FBI as seen in the 1960s TV show that I and other Boomers grew up with.

    2. Please read Lawfare’s: What We Know and Don’t Know About the Firing of Andrew McCabe. 1) This article argues that any opinion as to McCabe’s guilt or innocence (including mine!) is premature. 2) It supports my contention that the haste with which the action was taken renders it ‘tainted’. I would very much like to see your reaction after reading the full article. I hope you find this reply respectful and would appreciate it if in the future you would extend me the same courtesy.

    3. Howard,

      “It supports my contention that the haste with which the action was taken renders it ‘tainted’.”

      The article says nothing to support that belief. It says the exact opposite.

      It says that the public has insufficient information to draw conclusions, since the supporting report has not been released. It says that most of the people involved were either career employees or Obama appointees.

    4. Howard,

      Reading your comment, I’m unclear if you read this post. It has a 450 word excerpt from the Lawfare article that you mention.

  3. I’m going to go all Don Rumsfeld here and say that there are known unknowns, and probably some unknown unknowns as well. What we do know is that scandals at the FBI are nothing new. Whitey Bulger, Richard Jewell, that guy Hanssen (sp?) and the list goes on. The worst of them to date has been the investigation (Or noninvestigation, depending on how you look at it), of the anthrax attacks. The current present nasty business may or may not manage to top that one. I will venture no predictions.

    The underlying problems never seem to get addressed. Part of the reason is that part or all of official Washington circles the wagons every time, and you’re always left wondering if it’s because the Bureau has something on them. J Edgar’s body lies a moulderin’ in the grave, but his Bureau goes marching on.

    Given the general carelessness some of these people have shown, one has to conclude that either too dumb to be working at the FBI, or they have developed a sense of invulnerability that’s probably based on past experience. Note that those two explanations are not mutually exclusive.

  4. More on the integrity of Agent McCabe or Agent Get Smart.

    “McCabe told the panel that the FBI worked hard “to verify the contents of the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ and stood by its credibility.” However, he could not tell the lawmakers if “the bureaur has been able to verify the substantive allegations in the dossier, or even identify a substantive allegation that has been corroborated.” unquote

    “The lawmakers asked him which part of the dossier was true and Mccabe only pointed to the part “that the unpaid, low-level Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page visited Moscow in July 2016.” unquote

    https://legalinsurrection.com/2017/12/lawmakers-frustrated-by-mlawmakers-frustrated-by-mccabe-testimony-on-trump-dossier-hillaryccabe-testimony-on-trump-dossier/

    “McCabe is accused of allowing political bias to interfere in the FBI’s criminal investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leaking confidential information to the media. He is also accused of lying to investigators about his contact with reporters and abusing the FISA system to spy on Americans associated with the Trump campaign.”

    https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2018/03/16/turley-fbis-andrew-mccabe-should-be-worried-more-about-an-indictment-than-his-pension-n2461654

    Just as Mr Bitterman said, it is just the “lack of candor.” Carlos the Candor.

  5. “I think you are being (commendably) too kind to the FBI. It has long been both politicized, incompetent and corrupt. They used illegal methods against the civil rights and antiwar movements, but ignored organized crime until the public forced them to act. They have a long history of incompetent and corrupt behavior, as in the FBI crime lab scandal. They are not the FBI as seen in the 1960s TV show that I and other Boomers grew up with.”

    So true, Mr Kummer. Then your sentiment was more advanced than most. I do fully knowledge their various violations (crime) of law.

    Those whom become beholden to government, so become their victim.

    1. Bill,

      “Those whom become beholden to government, so become their victim.”

      Wow. Nicely said. Easily Best of Thread!

  6. “Americans will do anything — whine, advocate pie-in-the-sky solutions, close our eyes — to avoid having to work the political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders. To hind our failures, we blame others. Anyone. Putin, the people we elected, the political party we don’t like.”

    Profoundly put, Mr Kummer. I have argued the same point among conservatives, whom will not even devote a single day of the year, in some form of public protestation. Even I could have done more, distracted by other interest.

    Blaming others adjudicates nothing, other than to exonerate one’s own conscience for the lack of piety. Today and tomorrow the toll shall be paid – in sums which will be dear. Each day and night the burden will grow until a renaissance or a corpse appear. This is pandemic has now come to America: oh Dear God, have pity on us!

    1. Bill,

      “oh Dear God, have pity on us!”

      Each to his or her own faith. In mine, Nature’s God punishes two sins above all others: slow and stupid. America has had great fortune in our history. We have been blessed with great leaders in moments of peril. We have had extraordinary fortune in our early wars (the Revolution and the Civil War, both of which could easily have gone against us).

      Let’s hope we don’t get what we deserve, and that we change soon so that we deserve good fortune.

  7. Good fortune, indeed, Mr Kummer. That being said as man tamed the remaining wilderness,
    a great deity foresaw the last opportunity for man to build a prosperous and peaceful
    world. It provided for a substantial land mass, with unlimited natural resources and
    the basic building blocks – the greatest collection of human minds the world has ever
    assembled.

    Through trials and tribulations, rose a nation with all the attributes to ensure the
    orderly process of freedom and individualism and thus creating a society and country,
    which became the standard-bearer for those seeking the harbor and shelter of liberty
    and individual exceptionalism.

    The era of the past, has been replaced by generations whom regard our foundations,
    traditions, morals and ethics as mere historical relics: viewed as irrelevant and reactionary
    to current events that they rightly so have the greater conveyance of ethos and vision than
    those whom preceded before them. Just as the current machinery is vastly superior to
    previous models, so too thinketh today’s generation, foolishly disgorging the past and thus
    laying the foundation for their own demise. They are conscience of only their vacuous
    preeminence, it is after all preordain, the order of things, the secession of leadership
    simply through the act of birth.

    Fortune come and go and infinite are not; ask the Roman and they will tell you that they
    exhausted their supply of good fortune, as their future became insoluble. Observations
    would lead to similar conclusions for America’s future. The head is rotting; The Deity
    has been vanquish; morals and ethics are precepts in concept only; with the pursuit
    of lust, power and glory, as the new assemblance of order. Our enemies are pleased,
    no conflict is needed, all that is required is patience, as this once great nation begins
    to internally dissolve.

    Ah, from far afield, one hears the faint cry, a man bellowing an alarm – fellow citizens time
    is fleeting, rise one and all and restore your civic obligations or we shall be no more.

    Woe to the Republic, woe to mankind.

  8. Bill: “Those whom become beholden to government, so become their victim.”

    Larry: “Wow. Nicely said. Easily Best of Thread!”

    Mr Kummer, you are too kind.

    Happy Easter to you and all those whom peruse this one of kind website. I thank you for your intellectual inputs and the attentive replies.

  9. For the uninformed here is the reason for McCabe’s termination.

    “JORDAN: “McCabe didn’t lie just once, he lied four times. He lied to James Comey. He lied to the Office of Professional Responsibility and he lied twice under oath to the Inspector General. Remember, this is Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director of the FBI. This is Andrew McCabe, the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page talking about Andy’s office, the meeting where they talk about the insurance policy in case Donald Trump is actually President of the United States… Four times he lied about leaking information to the Wall Street Journal.”

    “Ex-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe admitted Saturday he was “confused and distracted” when he talked to investigators about alleged misconduct during a 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign,” reported the New York Post.”

    This is not just mere puffery. Mr Kummer, also makes the excellent point of the treatment between General Flynn and McCabe. Only the right, in most cases, whom are subject to governmental unit enforcement (civil & criminal) actions.
    .
    .
    Editor’s Note: This was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) speaking Thursday night on Laura Ingraham’s show “The Ingraham Angle.” The inspector general’s report has not been made public, but Jordan and Meadows’ offices have a copy of it. See the Fox News story.

    1. Bill,

      I don’t consider reliable a Republican congressman giving his interpretation of the FBI Inspector General’s report. Let’s wait for the report before drawing conclusions.

      I added a note to your comment showing the source of that info.

  10. Mr Kummer, thank you for correcting my omission!

    I do believe Rep Jordan to be a honorable man and that
    his conclusions will be sustained.

    1. Bill,

      1. Politicians spin.
      2. People tend to consider “honorable” politicians on their side.
      3. It’s a best practice to wait for the evidence.
      4. There is no gain from drawing conclusions until then.

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