WASHINGTON — Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — a frequent target of blistering criticism from President Donald Trump — has filed a federal lawsuit demanding the U.S. Justice Department release documents related to his abrupt firing.
McCabe claims in the 36-page lawsuit filed Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Washington that the Justice Department has repeatedly withheld the documents in violation of federal law and failed to abide by administrative rules, standards, policies and procedures.
The suit said the Justice Department’s repeated refusal to provide the documents is “incongruous with Defendants’ public, and repeated, representations to the effect that Mr. McCabe was dismissed from the FBI following an ‘extensive and fair investigation … according to Department of Justice procedure.’ ”
McCabe, who had served as acting FBI director from May to August in 2017 after Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey, had overseen investigations into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The probes also focused on high-level Trump administration officials. McCabe, the suit noted, had supported the appointment of a special counsel to conduct a criminal investigation into whether Trump obstructed an investigation into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
And The New York Times reported two weeks ago that McCabe had secretly written a memo to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the spring detailing a conversation on the firing of Comey as FBI director.
McCabe’s suit names as defendants the Justice Department, the department’s inspector general’s office and the FBI.
McCabe, who announced he was stepping down in January, had worked for the FBI for more than two decades when Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly fired him in March — hours before he planned to retire. The move denied McCabe and his family health benefits and delayed his federal pension.
Sessions said at the time that the department heeded the FBI’s recommendation to fire McCabe because he had “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.” The FBI alleged McCabe misled investigators about contacts in 2016 with a reporter for The Wall Street Journal working on a story suggesting he had slowed an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. McCabe had authorized two FBI officials to speak to the reporter.
Within hours of McCabe’s firing, Trump — who dismisses Mueller’s team’s investigation as a groundless “witch hunt” — tweeted after midnight on a Saturday:
Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2018
The suit, filed by Washington attorney David L. Snyder and two other attorneys, said McCabe’s requests for information on his dismissal “have been denied by some of the same high-ranking officials who were involved in, or responsible for, the investigation, adjudication, and/or dismissal of Mr. McCabe.”’
Snyder suggested that the Trump administration has stonewalled McCabe out of fear documents released about his firing would lead to a lawsuit claiming improper dismissal.
“Defendants fear that disclosure to Plaintiff of the documents at issue will place Defendants and others at risk in any proceedings brought against them by Mr. McCabe,” Snyder wrote. “Based on these fears, Defendants appear to have preemptively decided not to disclose the documents to Plaintiff.”
Neither the Justice Department nor the FBI could immediately be reached for comment.