White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the Trump administration believes FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is “by most accounts a bad actor” but stopped short of calling for his firing, telling reporters that decision should be made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“That’s a determination that we would leave up to Attorney General Sessions," Sanders said. "But we do think it is well documented that he has had some very troubling behavior and by most accounts a bad actor and should have some cause for concern.”
Reports that Sessions was considering firing McCabe surfaced this week, due to a yet-to-be-released watchdog report that reportedly says the deputy director was not forthcoming in an review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
McCabe, who has been a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump, announced in January that he would retire, using up his accumulated leave before officially leaving the bureau at the end of this week. Should Sessions fire him before Sunday, McCabe would not receive the pension benefits for which he is currently eligible.
Trump has accused the deputy FBI director of bias because his wife ran for a seat in 2015 in Virginia’s state legislature and received donations from the political action committee of then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and close ally of Hillary Clinton. McCabe did not rise to the level of deputy director until after his wife’s election loss, and it was former FBI Director James Comey, not McCabe, who decided against recommending Clinton face charges over her use of a private email system when she was secretary of state.