While liberals are up in arms about what they claim is the politically motivated firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, one liberal legal expert and constitutional law professor has some cold water to throw on their fire.
George Washington University School of Law Professor Jonathan Turley had seen the writing on the wall for McCabe and told CNN‘s Michael Smerconish on Saturday that the firing of the FBI official seems “justified” and that he should probably be thankful he’s not facing criminal charges.
The 21-year-veteran on the FBI, who stepped aside as the agency’s deputy director in January, was fired just hours before his scheduled retirement was to take effect, putting his lifetime pension at risk. Sessions made his decision under mounting pressure to fire McCabe and after reviewing a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to terminate him.
“It was justified in the sense that these were career officials–at the Office of Professional Responsibility–that made this recommendation which is exceedingly rare,” Turley explained. “In fact, it’s unprecedented for someone in this position. These are not political appointees. The OPR, quite frankly, is not viewed as a particularly aggressive office. So, all of that makes this a relatively rare sanction coming from career officers. They clearly concluded that McCabe misled them–and that he misled them on one of the core issues they were investigating, not a collateral issue.”
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Turley noted that the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General is “completely highly apolitical” and is “insulated like a Sherman tank from any outside forces,” making the recommendation to fire McCabe even more substantial.
“I first said when I heard of the report and its recommendation that I thought it was a given that he would be fired. It would be very surprising for Sessions to turn down this type of rare recommendation from the career staff. After all, he followed a recommendation from career staff to recuse himself–and I think rightfully so,” Turley said.
“What’s going to create an issue going forward is whether there will be a criminal referral,” the law expert continued. “Michael Flynn was indicted for making a false statement to investigators. Now, it’s true that they were looking at him for other crimes as well. But there will be some that will argue, ‘Why would you indict Michael Flynn, but a deputy FBI director is just worried about his pension, not prison?’”
McCabe has been formally accused of not only leaking but also lying about his leaking to investigators.
But Turley pointed out another issue that is raised with McCabe’s firing, and that comes following the former deputy director’s own statement following his dismissal.
“This could easily spin further out of control. There was one line in McCabe’s statement last night that I immediately flagged. Because he said that he had authority to do this and he conferred with the director,” Turley said.
“The director at that time was James Comey. Now, the problem here is that James Comey said under oath that he never leaked information and never approved a leak,” he continued. “So, if the inspector general believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about Comey’s previous testimony and could get him into serious trouble.”