Alex Knepper and Cinzia Croce from New American Perspective debate the meaning of President Trump’s firing of Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI.
The Meaningless Firing of Andrew McCabe
By: Alex Knepper
‘Another day, another drama.’ President Trump laid down the order to fire acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe just before he was to receive his pension. McCabe is the second FBI Director fired by the president in a year’s time. A lot of people who think very highly of themselves are very upset about this, and with good reason.
What have we learned from all this?
Have we learned that the president is a man-child who totally lacks respect for the people who work under him and the institutions he is tasked with protecting and elevating?
No, we already knew that.
Have we learned that he has little to no sense of how his actions are actually likely to be perceived by the broad majority of the people, rather than by his core of supporters?
No, we knew that, too.
Have we learned that the president cares more about petty personal drama than about policy — or even politics?
Alas, that, too, is something we already knew.
The daily freakshow/circus-act was growing tired already during Trump’s 2016 campaign, but at least then it contained a strong sense of humor. When Trump is happy, he is funny. He is not funny right now. Right now, Trump seems as though he is lashing out at anyone in close proximity to him, perhaps in an attempt to scapegoat his colleagues for the various failures of his administration’s first year. The temptation to comment on a story like this is strong: to condemn the pettiness of firing McCabe right before he was to receive his pension, to remark on the ongoing Mueller investigation, to speak more broadly of what this says about our norms. But events like these are meaningless in themselves. They conform perfectly to what we already knew about Trump: that he is a petty, vindictive, childish person totally unfit for office. Whatever is destined to come to light about the president will still come to light. The republic will not be affected. Mr. McCabe will not have a problem securing enough money to live comfortably in retirement. What more is there to add? All we can do is sit back and watch as the grotesqueness unfolds in front of us.
The Meaning of Firing Andrew McCabe
By: Cinzia Croce
It is often the case that what a person does not say is more important than what he says. That is certainly the case when it comes to my colleague’s latest attack against President Donald Trump. Nowhere in his piece does Alex mention that the dismissal of Andrew McCabe was recommended by FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility — the internal body charged for reviewing the conduct of FBI employees for possible disciplinary action. The review by the Office of Professional Responsibility was triggered by another investigation into McCabe’s conduct by the Inspector General. The IG has not yet released its final report but it is expected to criticize McCabe “for allowing two high-ranking bureau officials to sit down with the Wall Street Journal as the news outlet prepared a report in 2016 on an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s family foundation, then misleading the inspector general’s team about his actions.”
Under such circumstances even our cowardly Attorney General Jeff Sessions had no choice but to fire McCabe. The only way to avoid a dismissal would be to overrule the Office of Professional Responsibility — and it’s difficult to see on what grounds. I do agree that the timing of the firing — just hours away from being eligible for his full pension — seems petty, but unless Alex can provide proof that Trump delayed the recommendation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, then it is just another baseless attack on the president. So why didn’t the proverbial dog bark? Because if Alex had mentioned the two internal investigations he would have to admit that — gasp — McCabe earned his dismissal. He may even have to applaud Trump for introducing the concept of accountability to Washington – double gasp!
Judging from the swift and vociferous reaction from the likes of former FBI Director James Comey and ex-CIA boss John Brennan — affectionately known as the Deep State — to the McCabe firing, it is clear that Washington will fight to keep their privileged position of being above accountability. For decades, gross negligence, if not outright malfeasance, has gone unpunished. The FBI has repeatedly dropped the ball on preventing mass shootings and terrorist attacks -= Boston, Orlando, and more recently Parkland. Thousands of American lives were lost and bodies maimed in the pursuit of Iraq’s WMDs and no one was ever held accountable for such a catastrophic intelligence failure. Worse. George Tenet, who reportedly said WMDs in Iraq were a “slum dunk”, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. To be sure, there have been numerous congressional oversight hearings, but they are mostly an opportunity for politicians to raise their profile and/or fundraise. They are not serious efforts at exacting accountability. When was the last time a Congressional hearing resulted in anyone losing their benefits or persecution? I honestly cannot recall.
It is too early to know whether McCabe facing consequences for his actions is an aberration or the beginning of a new era of accountability. Attorney General Sessions is currently mulling whether to appoint a second Special Counsel to look into abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI. If a second Special Counsel is appointed, we can look back and say that the day McCabe was fired was the end of business as usual in Washington.
Alex Knepper, editor-in-chief and co-founder of New American Perspective, is a political writer whose interests span from foreign policy to education to philosophy. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from American University and an M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College – Annapolis. He has been featured or excerpted in national outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, FiveThirtyEight, and the Huffington Post.
Cinzia Croce, co-founder of New American Perspective, is a former political activist and regular political blogger. Born in Italy, she holds a BA in Anthropology and an MBA from the University of Texas – Dallas. She heads her own Texas-based regulatory consulting firm, but her true passion is writing about American politics and policy.