UPDATE: NBC News is reporting Monday that McCabe stepped down as deputy director effective immediately. NBC's sources indicated that McCabe will remain on the payroll until his eligible for retirement benefits in March.
Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Trinity ’90, has for months been stuck at the center of a political crusade concerning alleged anti-Trump bias within the bureau. This week, he found himself wrapped up in the headlines again.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported a May 2017 exchange in which President Donald Trump asked McCabe—who was acting FBI director at the time—whom he voted for in the 2016 presidential election. The exchange occurred shortly after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey May 9. The report noted that Trump also scolded McCabe about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that his wife Jill, also Trinity '90, had received during her failed Virginia state senate bid in 2015.
The Post’s article was the latest in a series of pieces highlighting McCabe’s strained relationship with Trump and other leading conservatives. The Chronicle dug into several earlier reports to produce a timeline of events surrounding the increasingly embattled Duke alum’s fateful few months.
Jill McCabe’s state senate bid
In a July 2017 Twitter storm, Trump questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision not to replace McCabe with another acting FBI director. He wrote that McCabe was a “Comey friend” and that his wife’s political ties to Hillary Clinton were compromising.
The tweets referred to Jill McCabe’s unsuccessful 2015 Virginia state senate bid. A Democrat, she received $207,788 from the state’s Democratic party and $467,500 from a political action committee associated with former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a political ally and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The donations caused a headache for McCabe when they were unveiled in a October 2016 Wall Street Journal report. At the time of the report, McCabe was tasked with overseeing the investigation into Clinton’s controversial private email server. But his own emails indicated that his wife’s campaign had ended three months prior to his promotion to deputy director, when he began oversight of the investigation.
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Nonetheless, the Trump camp hollered bias, and has been making noise ever since. At Trump’s insistence, Sessions has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray—who took over the position from McCabe in August 2017—to fire McCabe, who has returned to his role as deputy FBI director. However, recent reports stated that Wray calmed the pressure by threatening to resign if McCabe was removed. McCabe is rumored to be planning retirement after he receives full pension benefits in March 2018.
FBI official Peter Strzok removed by special counsel over anti-Trump texts
The controversy resurfaced in December 2017 after a series of partisan text messages exchanged between top FBI employees during the 2016 primary season were released to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The messages—which referred to then-presidential candidate Trump as an “idiot” and “douche” and called his potential victory “terrifying”—caused special counsel Robert Mueller to remove Peter Strzok, one of the FBI’s Russian counterintelligence experts, from his team.
One Strzok message—sent to FBI attorney Lisa Page—implicated McCabe in the politically tinged conversation.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
The messages prompted Trump to hurl another Twitter attack at McCabe and led a number of leading Republicans to publicly call for McCabe’s ouster.
The drama surrounding McCabe may be far from finished. The White House responded to The Post’s report by saying Trump’s conversations with McCabe were “limited” and “non-substantive.” But the report marks the latest chapter in the life of one of Duke’s most relevant alums.
Editor's Note: This article was updated Monday at 12:40 p.m. to include the news of McCabe stepping down from his position.