Andrew McCabe was sworn in as acting director of the FBI Tuesday evening after President Trump abruptly fired Director James Comey.
The White House fired Comey mere hours after the bureau sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee clarifying his testimony regarding the Hillary Clinton email controversy.
Amid the tumult, McCabe, who as deputy director had been the FBI’s second highest-ranking official, took over as acting director. But given Trump’s erratic temperament and McCabe’s ties to Democrats, his time at the helm could be brief. A permanent replacement would require Senate confirmation, but there were reports the administration could name an “interim” director within a few days.
McCabe started his career with the FBI as a special agent in 1996. He investigated organized crime while working in the New York Field Office. Afterward, he held a variety of leadership roles at the Counterterrorism Division, the National Security Branch and the Washington Field Office, according to the FBI.
He was certified as a senior intelligence officer in 2010 and became the FBI’s deputy director on Feb. 1, 2016, after his predecessor, Mark Giuliano, retired from the bureau after 28 years.
“Andy’s 19 years of experience, combined with his vision, judgment, and ability to communicate make him a perfect fit for this job,” Comey said in a statement at the time.
The deputy director is responsible for overseeing the FBI’s investigation and intelligence activities — both domestic and international — and serving as acting director should something happen to the current director.
Before joining the FBI, McCabe worked as a lawyer in private practice. He graduated from Duke University in 1990 and received his law degree from Washington University in 1993.
Many Trump supporters are already calling for the 49-year-old father of two to resign because his wife, Jill McCabe, has ties to Democratic politicians.
Last October, the Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett reported that Jill McCabe accepted nearly half a million dollars in donations from the super-PAC of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally, during her unsuccessful campaign for the Virginia state Senate in 2015. She also received an additional $200,000 from the state Democratic Party — roughly a third of her fundraising, according to Barrett.
Republicans then questioned the impartiality of his role in investigating Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state and Russia’s meddling with the U.S. election last year.
— Senator Dick Black (@SenRichardBlack) May 9, 2017
“The FBI ethics officials said, ‘Well since the election is over and she lost there’s no ethics issue anymore. It’s essentially as if that $500,000 is irrelevant to his current work,’” Barrett said in a video interview accompanying his article. “Obviously, Republicans don’t view it that way. Republicans are asking for more answers from the FBI and want to know what specifically McCabe did and what decisions he made surrounding the Clinton email investigation and other investigations.”
This report prompted House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to send McCabe a letter asking about the potential conflicts of interest these donations may have created. Chaffetz kept pushing for further investigation into Clinton’s emails after the election but rejected requests from Democrats to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving Trump’s business dealings.
Comey’s dismissal left a vacuum, and the big question now is whom Trump will ultimately choose to replace him. Among those named in rumors are former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, former Assistant Attorney General for National Security Ken Wainstein, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy.
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