Following the Trump administration’s firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just hours before he was supposed to retire, former CIA Director John Brennan has fired back at the president in what may be the harshest public criticism by any former CIA boss of a sitting U.S. president.
“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” Brennan tweeted Saturday in response to a tweet by President Donald Trump attacking McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey.
“You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you,” Brennan added.
Shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced at about 10 p.m. on Friday that he had fired McCabe, Trump gloated about it on Twitter. “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy,” Trump wrote. “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!”
Trump tweeted again on Saturday, saying, “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”
In a statement Friday night, McCabe, who highlighted his lengthy career spanning two decades at the FBI, including having investigated Russian organized crime and working on national security issues, defended his recent actions at the bureau. McCabe also accused Trump of personal attacks in an attempt to disrupt the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The former FBI deputy director is a witness to Trump’s firing of Comey, which is largely seen by many as obstruction of justice by the president in the Russia probe.
“Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” McCabe said.
Citing an investigation by the Justice Department inspector general accusing McCabe of disclosing sensitive information to the media about a probe of Hillary Clinton’s actions, McCabe said, “The release of this report was accelerated only after my testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed that I would corroborate former Director Comey’s accounts of his discussions with the President. The OIG’s focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn.”
McCabe, who first learned of his dismissal from news reports, has retained legal counsel and might sue the Trump administration over his firing. He reportedly has kept personal memos about Trump, similar to the ones that Comey prepared after his interactions with the president, the Associated Press reported.
For his part, Brennan, who served at the CIA under presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, including working as Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser before becoming CIA director, has been critical of Trump in the past. Earlier this month, he called Trump “unstable, inept, inexperienced and unethical.” He also warned that lawmakers protecting Trump would face a “reckoning.”
Brennan’s criticism of lawmakers followed the announcement last Monday by Republican Rep. Mike Conaway that the House Intelligence Committee was ending its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that the investigation had found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s inner circle and Russia. Democrats challenged that conclusion and noted that they hadn’t even finished calling all of the witnesses they had hoped to interview.
Update, Saturday, 5:46 p.m.: McCabe reportedly already has spoken to Mueller’s team about Comey’s firing, Axios reported. He also has turned over his memos to Mueller detailing his meetings with Trump. According to Axios, “The memos include corroboration by McCabe of Comey’s account of his own firing by Trump.”