On McCabe’s Firing

I’m going to refrain from making any conclusions about Andy McCabe’s firing until we have the Inspector General Report that underlies it. For now (update: I’ve now cleaned this up post-Yoga class), keep the following details in mind:

Michael Horowitz is a very good Inspector General

The allegations that McCabe lacked candor in discussions about his communications with Devlin Barrett all arise out of an investigation Democrats demanded in response to FBI’s treatment of the investigation into Hillary Clinton. It is being led by DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz. Horowitz was nominated by Barack Obama and confirmed while Democrats still had the majority, in 2012.

I’ve never seen anything in Horowitz’ work that suggests he is influenced by politics, though he has shown an ability to protect his own department’s authority, in part by cultivating Congress. Of significant note, he fought with FBI to get the information his investigators needed to do the job, but was thwarted, extending into Jim Comey’s tenure (as I laid out in a fucking prescient post written on November 3, 2016).

As I’ve long covered, in 2010, the FBI started balking at the Inspector General’s proper investigative demands. Among other things, the FBI refused to provide information on grand jury investigations unless some top official in FBI said that it would help the FBI if the IG obtained it. In addition, the FBI (and DEA) have responded to requests very selectively, pulling investigations they don’t want to be reviewed. In 2014, the IG asked OLC for a memo on whether it should be able to get the information it needs to do its job. Last year, OLC basically responded, Nope, can’t have the stuff you need to exercise proper oversight of the FBI.

DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has been trying for some time to get Congress to affirmatively authorize his office (and IGs generally, because the problem exists at other agencies) to receive the information he needs to do his job. But thus far — probably because Jim Comey used to be known as the world’s biggest Boy Scout — Congress has failed to do so.

I care about how FBI’s misconduct affects the election (thus far, polling suggests it hasn’t done so, though polls are getting closer as Republican Gary Johnson supporters move back to supporting the GOP nominee, as almost always happens with third party candidates). But I care even more about how fucked up the FBI is. Even if Comey is ousted, I can’t think of a likely candidate that could actually fix the problems at FBI. One of the few entities that I think might be able to do something about the stench at FBI is the IG.

Except the FBI has spent 6 years making sure the IG can’t fully review its conduct.

So while I don’t think he’d be motivated by politics, he has had a running fight with top FBI officials about their willingness to subject FBI to scrutiny for the entirety of the Comey tenure.

McCabe has suggested that the investigation into him was “accelerated” only after he testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he would corroborate Jim Comey’s version of his firing.

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. 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. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens.

I’m not sure this timeline bears out (the investigation was supposed to be done last year, but actually got extended into this year). The statement stops short of saying that he was targeted because his testimony — presumably already delivered to Robert Mueller by the time of his HPSCI testimony — corroborated Comey’s.

What we’ve seen of the other personnel moves as a result of this investigation — the reassignment of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for texts that really did raise conflict issues (to say nothing of operational security problems), and the reassignment of James Baker — seem reasonable. McCabe’s firing was reviewed by a whole bunch of people who have been around DOJ a long time.

So it’s possible the underlying claim has merit. It’s also possible that McCabe is getting the same punishment that a line agent would get if he did not answer the IG honestly.

Trump’s comments matter

Obviously, all that cannot be taken out of context of Trump’s own statements and Jeff Sessions’ efforts to keep his job.

We will get these details in upcoming days, and almost all the details will come from people who’ve got a big stake in the process.

Michael Bromwich — McCabe’s lawyer — says they didn’t get a review of the allegations against McCabe until very recently, and were still trying to contest the firing two days ago (as was publicly reported). I find his claim that this was “cleaved off” from the larger investigation unconvincing: so were Strzok and Page, but that was done to preserve the integrity of the Mueller investigation, and Chris Wray had said publicly that he wanted to act on problems as they found them. Bromwich curiously is not saying that McCabe’s firing violates any agreement McCabe made when he took leave to await retirement.

Undoubtedly, Jeff Sessions did this in the most cowardly way possible. While I think it’s likely, I’m not 100% convinced that the timing was anything other than trying to make a real decision rather than let the retirement make it.

There’s no evidence, yet, that McCabe will lose all his pension

It has been said for over a month that McCabe was just waiting out his birthday so he could “get” his pension. That was so he could start drawing on it immediately. Josh Gerstein laid out the best thing I’ve seen on the implications (as well as what limited legal recourse McCabe has).

The financial stakes for McCabe could be significant. If he had made it to his 50th birthday on Sunday while still in federal service, he would have been eligible to begin drawing a full pension immediately under provisions that apply to federal law enforcement officers, said Kimberly Berry, a lawyer in Arlington, Virginia, who specializes in federal retirement issues.

Berry disputed reports, however, that McCabe would lose his pension altogether.

“He doesn’t lose his retirement,” she said. “It’s not all thrown out in the garbage.“

Even after his dismissal, McCabe will probably be eligible to begin collecting his pension at about age 57, although he would likely lose access to federal health coverage and would probably get a smaller pension than if he stayed on the federal payroll, experts said.

There have been claims McCabe could get hired by a member of Congress for a week so he can start drawing on it. But I’ve heard the finances aren’t even the issue, it’s the principle, which if you want to be a martyr, being fired works better.

This will have a far smaller impact on the Mueller probe than Comey-McCabe loyalists and John Dowd lay out

McCabe and others have suggested that there has been a successful effort to retaliate against Comey’s three corroborating witnesses, though that is least convincing with regards to Jim Rybicki, who was replaced as happens as a matter of course every time a new FBI Director comes in.

But the Comey-McCabe loyalists make far too much of their role in the Mueller probe, making themselves the central actors in the drama. Yes, if their credibility is hurt it does do some damage to any obstruction charges against Trump, which, as I keep repeating, will not be the primary thrust of any charges against Trump. Mueller is investigating Trump for a conspiracy with Russians; the obstruction is just the act that led to his appointment as Special Counsel and with that, a much more thorough investigation. Contrary to what you’re hearing, little we’ve seen thus far is fruit of the decisions Comey and his people made. While all were involved in the decision to charge Mike Flynn, he has already pled guilty and started spilling his guts to Mueller. There’s no reason to believe McCabe or Comey are direct witnesses in the conspiracy charges that will be filed against people close to Trump, if not against Trump himself.

For all those reasons, John Dowd’s claim that McCabe’s firing should end the investigation is equally unavailing.

I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.

I mean, if this really is Dowd’s impression of why his client is being investigated, I almost feel sorry for Trump.

But the truth is the dossier has always been a distraction. The obstruction charge was probably used to distract Trump (and his NYT stenographers) while Mueller’s team collected the far more serious evidence on the conspiracy charges, though events of this week may well add to the conspiracy charges. And Comey didn’t manufacture any investigation; if anything, his people were not aggressive enough in the months he oversaw the investigation, particularly as it pertains to George Papadopoulos.

So if Dowd thinks McCabe’s firing will affect the core of the evidence Mueller has already developed (and, I suspect, started hanging on a sealed magnet indictment), he is likely to be very disappointed.

Regardless of the merits of the McCabe firing, it (and the related shit storm) may give Rosenstein and Mueller more time to work. It’s not clear they need that much more time to put together the conspiracy charges that are sitting right beneath the surface.

Finally — and I’m about to do a post on this — the far more important news from yesterday is that Facebook is cutting off Cambridge Analytica for violating its agreements about data use. That may well lead to some far more important changes, changes that Trump has less ability to politicize.

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104 replies
  1. Spring Texan says:

    Losing access to federal health benefits is HUGE. Means you won’t qualify for Medicare till 65 and meantime you are up shit creek with only Obamacare to count on – much worse and may not last till you are 65. Narrow networks, etc. Plus, federal insurance is good worldwide (at least the big plans are) and not just in the US like Medicare, permitting travel.

    This is not minor in any way, financially, even if he still could collect some pension later.

    I disagree with disqualifying anyone from getting their earned pension. People EARN their retirement. I’ll bet morale at the FBI is really low.

    None of this is to say the current position of the FBI vis-a-vis the IG is OK. The IG can be a lot of use.

    • emptywheel says:

      His wife is a doctor. They are apparently worth quite a bit. And FBI officials, even line agents, almost always land someplace swank when they’re done.

      • Mutaman says:

        He’s a Republican, I’m sure he’s got plenty stashed away.

        “Means you won’t qualify for Medicare till 65 and meantime you are up shit creek with only Obamacare to count on”

        As Warren said: Poor poor pitiful me.

    • Dev Null says:

      @Spring Texan: I’m having difficulty seeing how his situation is worse than the situation of almost anyone else who switches jobs at age 50, even were McCabe’s wife not an MD (as emptywheel points out).

      Lots of variables into the equation, but there’s the (prospective) book contract (Sagan: “billions and billions”), and either he gets a new job (in which case health benefits after 6 months) or a gofundme which would allow him to move $ around.

      I’m not saying McCabe’s firing is just; I’m saying I don’t think McCabe will suffer inordinately for it.

  2. Trip says:

    I once had a very vicious, vindictive and petty boss who fired people on a whim if they peeved her, for the smallest infractions, or because of her own prejudices. She said that “No one is perfect, and if you want to get rid of someone, you can always find a way”.

    I will put an asterisk next to Horowitz, for you. Rosenstein was given the highest level of respect, always considered a consummate professional by everyone, everywhere, or so it seemed, and yet he was drawn into the Comey firing with a pretext explanation, which we all KNOW was never true. Whether he has or will redeem his character is another story.

    None of us know the specifics of the infractions, how serious they are, how they can be gauged against similar or same circumstances, and any punishment thereof.  Suggestions of actions are not written in stone and discretion falls to Sessions.

    But we do know that the method of dismissal was for optimum humiliation and political theater. The fact that Fox News was chomping at the bit at around 3:30 PM, when this real news didn’t drop until later in the evening, tells you all you need to know about this fuckery.

    Now, will anyone be questioned at the DoJ or FBI about THAT leak to Fox News?  How about Giuliani and the FBI leaks to Fox in re to Weiner’s computer? *Crickets*. Why hasn’t that investigation been sped up, in the light of the election interference? What if someone spilled that info is retiring tomorrow? Shouldn’t we rush them out the door as well?

     

    • emptywheel says:

      I would be shocked if any major outlet didn’t have a similar stub written by 3:30PM. That’s how these things are done.

      • Trip says:

        They are, except in this case, Trump takes policy decisions directly from Fox, and leaks to them more exclusively. Who shared this with them? And if not, it seems like a foregone conclusion that McCabe would be fired, the same way obituaries are written in advance because we know all people will die.

          • Trip says:

            The evidence is that Fox News and no other news org posted this early in the day, on the same day McCabe was fired, but before it was announced.

            Sure, it could be a random goof-up, but the fact that they had a template for his firing tends to demonstrate that, at the least (if not told that day), they anticipated it to be the outcome.

            • emptywheel says:

              So did everyone else. This is not evidence. If anything it’s the contrary, bc they obviously didn’t know the details when they wrote the stub.

            • RLW says:

              The other networks rarely report on liberal negative political revelations so this is no different. Benghazi was the most outstanding I had ever witnessed. One outlet, besides Fox reported a second “lib censored” Benghazi story and was blasted for it- Associated Press. Nearly all media is Liberal Controlled as is Hollywood. When you research and follow the breadcrumbs, it is revealing how deceitful the Dems have been. They keep getting caught and creating Trump stories to deflect their dirt. BTW, anyone else loses their pension if fired before meeting the requirements. The courts have ruled that teachers, for example,  can even lose their pension AFTER retirement if something was found criminal during their tenure.

              • Rayne says:

                This is your first post here so you’ll get a little slack. But next time you sling this stuff you had better bring facts in the form of citations.

                Like that last line, neatly conflating McCabe’s termination with teachers who’ve had criminal records.

                And this ill-informed screed: “Nearly all media is Liberal Controlled as is Hollywood.”

              • Trip says:

                Hey dude, did you notice that the icon of liberalism, Trey Gowdy, said that the Russians (Kremlin) preferred Trump and tried to influence the election in that direction?

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Trip, did you actually see on the Faux Noise scroll at approximately 3:30 EST on 2018-03-16 that actually said McCabe was fired?

          How was it worded?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I’m not a fan of whatabout claims, since they tend to lead to an endless circle of examples.

      I can’t help but note the irony, however, that Sessions fired McCabe for a lack of candor to investigators when Sessions lied in a very substantial way to Congress about his contacts with Russians.

      I’ll admit my feelings about this get complicated because the last thing I want is to see Sessions fired in a way that upends the ultimate control over Mueller, and as a general principle I don’t like to see investigators misled.

      I’d also note that “lack of candor” is a low bar to clear, suggesting not straight out lying but saying things like “I don’t recall” when you have good reason to remember clearly. If the Trump camp endorses a “lack of candor” standard in this case, you would hope that the media starts hitting them back with that every single time Trump mangles the truth.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Lack of candor is certainly not a standard Donald Trump would ever have survived in his career.

  3. Alan says:

    On Just Security they point out the Sessions’ firing of McCabe violates his promise to recuse himself taken under oath during his confirmation hearings.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    McCabe got fucked, End of story.
    Trump will fire Mueller next!
    He wants a constitutional crisis.

    • rob coyle says:

      I agree!   Trump is getting cornered by Mueller and this is the time to act. I believe he will fire Mueller and is counting on the GOP to cover his dirty ass.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, the bit I was going to add is that the FB stuff is a far, far bigger deal than McCabe’s firing.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        One dish or the other, it’s all coming out of the same Trump kitchen.  But yes, one individual’s fate is not the same as the integrity of the election process.

        The same methods and tools the Russians might have used will be more sophisticated and fine-tuned next time around, and could well be used by or laundered through wholly domestic actors.

          • emptywheel says:

            I know this is highly unlikely. But Meuller’s team have snapped up two key witnesses at IAD thus far. Maybe that’s where he’s coming home through.

  5. aubrey mcfate says:

    Thanks for this antidote to the somewhat histrionic reporting I saw on MSNBC last night. It’s a lot like your antidote to the “red line” threats being amplified by the NYT. My own first feeling, naive maybe, that this was good because it might appease Trump’s desire to strike out and momentarily feel himself master the situation, so I’m glad to see your conclusion, “Ultimately, this may give Rosenstein and Mueller more time to work. And it’s not clear they need that much more time.”
    It’s what we in the peanut gallery are asking: when does this all come down? And in what sequence?

  6. aubrey mcfate says:

    I have an open question for anyone (maybe I missed the speculative answer in a previous post): the news story last week that Mueller is holding onto the obstruction of justice charge — is that a warning to Trump, and whose? And if Trump fires Rosenstein or Sessions will that trigger indictments from Mueller? Maybe the questions are naive, but what actual fears are keeping Trump from pulling the trigger? I don’t think he believes that the investigation will “wrap up” and exonerate him (he’s guilty, after all), and I don’t think its concern for the fall elections, and it’s certainly not concern that Republicans would do anything about the possible events so euphemistically called a “constitutional crisis”.

  7. Bay State Librul says:

    Aubrey,

    Good points.
    I’m expecting a Saturday Night Special.
    Hopefully, Mueller has anticipated the next move.
    But who knows…

    • Trip says:

      I don’t like Kristol, but I do imagine he has highly placed sources:

      Bill Kristol‏Verified account @BillKristol
      This is RUMINT, but pretty credible RUMINT: Trump preparing to fire Sessions, name Pruitt Acting AG (which he can be since he already holds a Senate confirmed position), and Pruitt fires Mueller. And McMaster likely to be replaced by Bolton. Shulkin also on way out, FWIW.
      3:02 PM – 14 Mar 2018

      Maybe Sessions saved himself another day by firing McCabe.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I suspect the main thing delaying Trump at this point is that he still lacks a clear narrative about how blowing up Mueller’s investigation plays out. Not that he is looking for a true narrative, just one that he can buy as plausible.

        I suspect that he’s received a lot of warnings about state prosecutions, the cost to his businesses, the risks that House (and possibly Senate) investigations will open up new cans of worms, and other issues. I think he knows that firing Mueller will have a lot of backfire, even worse than firing Comey.

        So he’s in a state where he’s still trying to sort out the costs and benefits of doing what all of his instincts are telling him, and he can’t quite talk himself into a storyline where the costs don’t really matter. I think he’s deluded, but not so deluded he is unaware of the pain he will suffer when he fires Mueller. He loves his Tower in NYC and doesn’t want to see Schneiderman threatening its viability.

        I think the Daniels case may be the tipping point. It may well make him feel trapped no matter what he does, and that sense of being trapped will be the trigger that overrides whatever fear of self inflicted wounds still exists. He’ll give up on scheming and just go into a full fledged rage.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Though I’m not 100% convinced that the timing was anything other than trying to make a real decision rather than let the retirement make it.

    The decision might ultimately be proven valid.  But that does not make it valid to “make a real decision rather than let the retirement make it.”  That aspect is inherently abusive.

    Trump and Sessions do not have a history that would suppot giving either of them the benefit of the doubt over whether firing a career civil servant hours ahead of his retirement was abusive.  Add in the context over McCabe’s being a witness to the events around the Comey firing, the president’s anger that the Mueller probe continues, and that it is now demanding his business records, and any assumption of good faith dealing ought to go out the window.

    That Dowd is even connecting these events and claiming that McCabe’s firing should have any effect on Mueller’s investigation, let alone end it, are strong arguments that Trump’s motives – and directions to Sessions – are not in good faith.

    • KM says:

      The decision might ultimately be proven valid.  But that does not make it valid to “make a real decision rather than let the retirement make it.”  That aspect is inherently abusive.

      Indeed.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      One thing that struck me about Dowd’s statement is how nutty it is, and how I’d be stunned that any lawyer would put in writing what he did.

      From the Daily Beast article:

      As part of his initial email, Dowd included the text below, which is an annotated version of a line from a well-known 20th century play:

      “What’s that smell in this room[Bureau}? Didn’t you notice it, Brick [Jim]? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room[Bureau}?… There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity[corruption]… You can smell it. It smells like death.” Tennessee Williams- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

      The Daily Beast article also says:

      When The Daily Beast initially asked Dowd if he was speaking on behalf of the president, he answered, “Yes as his counsel.”  After publication of this story, however, Dowd emailed to say he was actually speaking in his personal capacity, and not on the president’s behalf.

      Dowd is being incredibly sloppy here, and you have to wonder if this only adds to the whispering to Trump that Dowd needs to be added to the next list of Trump’s victims.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh you don’t know John Dowd then, he has a long and rich history of making belligerent, bellicose and quite inappropriate statements. And, as he is the President’s attorney of record, of course he was speaking for his client. That is why lawyers should not run their mouthes about their client’s cases if there is nothing positive to accomplish.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I should clarify that I know Trump’s legal braintrust is capable of that kind of thing – Cobb and Sekulow have their share of moments – but it still leaves me slackjawed they would be so nutty. There is a difference between being a pitbull on behalf of your client and being a weirdo that they don’t seem to grasp. Strange mangling of Tennessee Williams doesn’t help your client.

        • KM says:

          One would have to think that for Trump, this is considered a feature, not a bug.  Too bad for him that he and his gang of legal stooges are now playing in the big leagues.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What’s Christopher Wray been doing while Trump had Sessions fire the FBI’s “choir boy”?

  10. jdmckay says:

    What we’ve seen of the other personnel moves as a result of this investigation — the reassignment of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for texts that really did raise conflict issues (to say nothing of operational security problems), and the reassignment of James Baker — seem reasonable.

    I don’t know much about Page, have looked into Strzok’s work history (mainly ’cause ferocity FOX went after him) and looks to me like he’d done a lot of good work over the years seemingly irrespective of political leanings.  The right wing attacks on FBI (especially anyone connected to Mueller’s investigation) have been… mercilous.  They’ve taken narrow facts of angst against Trump, ignored Trump failings, and used said facts to paint a broad bush conspiracy against DT in a way that makes “believers” think anything less then praise for DT is a conspiracy to undermine democracy.

    Reminds me of what they did to defend GWB/Cheney in leadup to Iraq, maybe even more the Swift Boat smear on Kerry (which I think cost him that election).

    I agree Mueller reassigning Strzok was “reasonable”.

    But I much more cringe at the overall bigger picture, to legitimize DT at any cost, taking down anyone… anytime, that challenges them… much less puts forth legitimate illegalities.

    GWB was most destructive presidency in my 60+ year lifetime… unbelievable what they got away with.

    There is one strong parallel between Junior and DT’s presidency: for the most part, neither drove policy.  It’s the Federalist Society, Cato etc. filling staffing positions and driving policy… in secret.  Basically, a rape of the US by corrupt government.  DT’s willingness to push this beyond limits we’ve never seen here, scary scary shit AFAIC.

    Thanks for all you do (and have done) here Marcy.   You deserve a medal AFAIC.

    • Dev Null says:

      @jdmckay: Apologies in advance for being anal, but it’s “merciless”, not “mercilous”.

      Wouldn’t mention it were it not a speed bump. I couldn’t come up with the right spelling until I resorted to Teh Great Goog.

      Other than spelling, +1.

       

       

  11. Bay State Librul says:

    The shrinks were right on 11/29/16

    The stresses of Stormy and Mueller have heightened…..

    The World Health Organization writes that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

    The psychologists warned us

    “We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the mental stability of our President-Elect. Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally. Nevertheless, his widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office. We strongly recommend that, in preparation for assuming these responsibilities, he receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators.”

    • TheraP says:

      Absolutely!

      And without mentioning my diagnostic hypotheses, my recommendation is that he should be in “protective custody” for numerous national security reasons.

  12. Avattoir says:

    I’ve tried to make the point elsewhere to the effect that it’s possible that not only will McCabe receive pension benefits per se – there’s no doubt at all that he will, but that it’s actually too early to know whether the timing of the Sessions’ firing him will have any effect at all on the calculation of them.
    Having worked several times with a not-insubstantial number of ‘lifers’, what I learned from some of them as a) they tend to spend a heck of a lot, not infrequently comic and sometimes actually unseemly, of time working and reworking and reworrying their post-employment packages, b) AMONG that admittedly small sample, I’m aware of at least 3 cases, folks I actually worked with for some years, where the full extent of their post-retirement benefit packages still wasn’t actually determined until some months AFTER they left.

    And FWIW, IM experience the absolute zen masters of the art of tending to their retirement package gardens were the senior desk jockeys. McCabe moved into management very early in his career with the bureau and rare strayed from a supervisory, oversight, or management role for over 15 years. I wouldn’t put it past anyone with that sort of profile to recognize the value in sending out misleading signals about his views on such matters over the more than 18 freaking months between the problematic behavior and the day HE selected to put about the impression was so all-fired vital to him.

    • Trip says:

      I wouldn’t put it past anyone with that sort of profile to recognize the value in sending out misleading signals about his views on such matters over the more than 18 freaking months between the problematic behavior and the day HE selected to put about the impression was so all-fired vital to him.

      Avattoir, would you please rephrase this, and dumb it down substantially, for me? The point is not quite clicking for me, but I would like to understand.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I can second your observation about the obsessive nature of lifers about their retirement benefits. It’s a lot like the ongoing monitoring of how much sick leave they have banked, even though the odds of them ever using it all are almost zero. It’s why leave-sharing policies are one of the great changes in personnel policy, partly because it allows new employees who need extra leave to get it, and also because it lets longtimers do something with their leave besides simply counting it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s deferred comp in lieu of a higher wage or salary paid out monthly.  They earn those benefits every day.  I don’t hear much complaining about CEOs who arrange deferred comp, except that they do it for tax purposes rather than because it’s the only way their employers will pay it.  If their deferred comp was taken away, they would scream bloody murder.  But I agree that leave sharing policies are a rare win-win for employees and for employers.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What’s comical is the idea that items of deferred comp are not earned-as-you-work.  Senior executives certainly think so.  Why shouldn’t everyone else think hard about theirs, particularly as, unlike CEOs, rank and file can see their deferred comp tossed out without much ado.

      I’ve seen senior executives obssess plenty about their deferred-for-tax purposes comp, about stock prices and options vesting, about bonuses, and about my bete noir, readjusting “performance” targets to make sure that anticipated bonuses are paid regardless of individual or corporate performance.

      • Dev Null says:

        @everyone: I wish to avoid exposing personal details, but to give you an idea, I worked circa 20-odd years at a major industrial company, and subsequently 15-odd years at a gummint agency, and I have never previously encountered this lingo.

        In particular: “lifer” – how can someone who retires at 50 be a lifer? “Senior desk jockeys” – this seems to mean “senior mgmt”, amirite?

        Agree with @Trip and others: please dumb it down for me.

        And @Bob Conyers: “leave-sharing policies” … I am so 20thC… absolutely first time I’ve heard of this, even though my two employers are (I believe) well-known. My current employer pays out leave on retirement, so it isn’t intuitive to me why leave-sharing is win-win.

  13. TheraP says:

    Is this a case where, even if there is “cause” found, “corrupt intent” could still lead to this being another example of Obstruction of Justice?  Because it sure looks like “corruption” occurred here to this non-lawyer person.

    Because I’m guessing that whatever the well-intentioned, upstanding, honest “investigators” may have found in their hastily put-together investigation, Sessions may have cherry-picked bits and pieces to “fit” the already demanded “result” of the extremely corrupt ‘resident’ sitting in the White House.

    I am just so sickened by everything, the whole conspiracy “net” to Defraud the US, which EW laid out so well recently.

  14. Desider says:

    How much does Trump expose himself to employee harassment suits with his tweets and 8 month old orders to turn up the pressure on these three? Especially with Sessions (like Nunes) supposed to be recused.

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    In the end, a woman (Stormy) will probably bring this Presidency down…
    “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them” Sylvia Plath.
    Hot bath, I’m having a few pints ‘Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!’

  16. TheraP says:

    Times and WaPo now out with breaking stories indicating McCabe kept contemporaneous memos of his interactions with Trump as well and conversations with Comey. News is coming faster and faster:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/us/politics/andrew-mccabe-fbi-memos-trump.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fired-fbi-official-andrew-mccabe-kept-memos-of-his-interactions-with-trump-a-person-familiar-with-the-case-says/2018/03/17/8ef5bb0e-2a07-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html

    I wonder how soon these will be in the possession of Mueller & Crew? And when does the Cavalry arrive??? I so recall that from childhood!

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Justice Department says it’s considering public disclosure of Carter Page surveillance order

      https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/433351002

      Responding to a legal challenge brought by USA TODAY and the James Madison Project, Justice Department lawyers Friday cast the ongoing review as “novel, complex and time-consuming.”

      The government has never, in any litigation civil or criminal, processed FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) applications for release to the public,” Justice lawyers wrote in a five-page filing.

      The government’s action comes in wake of a bitter political dispute in which a divided House Intelligence Committee, while conducting a review of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, seized on a 2016 order authorizing the surveillance of Page.

      [Nunes, job well done. Seriously, your work is appreciated. Always good when things work out the way you think. /s]

  17. cfost says:

    Donald Trump is being played like a fiddle. The only question is, by whom?

    Putin? Mueller? Both? Others also?

    Trump’s emotional rally last night was reminiscent of a dying person’s last rally before death.

  18. Willis Warren says:

    McCabe has never seemed that important to me.  The Republicans obsession with the dossier is going to come back to haunt them when Mueller releases his work and the dossier is completely ignored.  This is tRUmp being a dick and thinking that he can discredit the obstruction charges, too stupid to realize we all know he conspired with the Russians to win an election and probably promised the disbanding of NATO, among other things, to Putin

  19. Willis Warren says:

    Serious question here, does Horowitz’s investigation include the NY FBI office holding Weiner’s laptop and conspiring with Giuliani to release the information before the election?

    • greengiant says:

      More likely we will learn that Hillary the pedophile soon to be indicted and the 650,000 emails were fake news and that WSJ Barrett,  Giuliani,  Prince and others were 4chan”ed” along the lines of falling for Trump’s 3 million illegal voters in Ca and Stephen Miller’s 6,000 voters bused into New Hampshire.  Must have been orgasmic when their focus groups and social media polls showed that “the emails” were the HUGE vote swing.  The real burn will be when the perps who ghosted out Weiner’s last sexts as popularized by Trump.org connected UK Daily Mail are busted.

      • Desider says:

        Well, it is funny to see Trump even more indebted to his dick than Anthony Weiner. The irony. Where’s Giuliani’s concern about top secret material and the well-being of the FBI now?

  20. pdaly says:

    (in reply to TheraP, above): That’s got me wondering. What ever happened to the person who tried to make a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove?

  21. What Constitution? says:

    I actually am most impressed that Trump didn’t give in and write “Neener, neener, neener” in his tweet about McCabe. It’s plain that’s his emotional and intellectual state. Maybe he’s saving that for his next campaign appearance “helping” the next gullible bootlicking Rethug candidate who invites him to speak.

  22. Jules Dread says:

    The question of whether he deserved to be removed from service is a question whose answer is dependent on the report. The very distinct question of whether he deserved to be fired two days before removing himself from service is a completely different one and can easily be answered without the report.

    There rarely an upside for an employer to fire a decades long professional employee who is leaving anyway – because potential lawsuits, because morale, and because optics. So, here there was something clearly over-riding all of those considerations in this decision. A desire to humiliate, discredit, and send a warning to others are the only things that make sense.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is trying to humiliate and intimidate more than McCabe and the FBI, though those are his primary targets.  He’s putting Chris Wray in his place.  Not long ago Wray threatened to resign over this identical issue.  Haven’t heard bupkus from him this time round.

    Trump is also laying down the gauntlet for all government employees.  If the president can reach down three levels in the chain of command (Sessions to Wray to McCabe), and do this to the No. 2 at the FBI, an armed federal agency with considerable status and bureaucratic power, the hired help elsewhere can be treated with even more impunity.

    This is why, ever since Andrew Jackson was president, civil service protections have been considered vital to the well-being of the US Government.

  24. Peacerme says:

    One advantage to all of this, if the democracy survives, is an entire American Government class for the republic. And if Dems are smart, they revive, reinforce and validate the structure of democracy and our constitution. Reclaim patriotism. Drive the narrative. There is no controversy in teaching the republic about our constitution. It calms the biting rhetoric if we could get a group of Dems to use social media in
    this non partisan way. In that sense I consider it my duty and obligation to share this blog on my Facebook page daily.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump now claims that the Andrew McCabe contemporaneous business records he has not seen are fake.  He revels in calling McCabe by the epithets he uses against anyone who might hold him to account: disgruntled, lying, fired, former, terminated, discredited.  The man hates himself so much he gives the world his attributes, but describes himself the way Tony the Tiger describes flaked corn cereal.

    Trump’s is not a factual statement.  It is political theater.  It is Trump playing the Wurlitzer.  Next, his best and brightest will organize street protests aimed at defending the president from his enemy, the American police state.  (The one he employs through DHS’s ICE to terrorize and deport the weakest, most productivfe and law-abiding of immigrants.)

    Perhaps someone screened Seven Days in May for Don and he now sees himself as a real president-by-coup James Mattoon Scott.  Trump is turning his base into a mob.  It makes the arrogant elitist billionaire feel like a victim.  It helps keep the police at bay and helps his re-election.  The latter may be the only way he stays out of prison until his Big Mac and chocolate malt diet takes him to the tailor, the hospital, and onward to the ultimate penthouse.

    • bmaz says:

      Seven Days in May is one hell of a good movie. The book by Knebel and Bailey is even better, though I have not read it since maybe early 70’s. Watched the movie last July on TCM and saved it on the DVR. May be about time to view it again. And, though the analogy is imperfect for today, the parallels for danger to democracy are eerily spot on.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Knebel and Bailey caught the mood of a Kennedyesque era: civil rights marches, angry disputes over peace or war, accusations that wanting peace were dangerous, unAmerican and treasonous.  James Mattoon Scott – a fictional Air Force general and chairman of the Joint Cheifs – stood in nicely for Curtis LeMay.  The fictional general was part Doug MacArthur, part Huey Long, part Father Coughlin.

        The real LeMay famously refused to release to the president his plans for nuclear reprisal against the Soviets, saying he wasn’t cleared for it.  His plans apparently called for nuclear weapons to be used against virtually every city, town, shtetl and outhouse in the Soviet Union.  Viewing war with the Soviets as inevitable, he thought we should strike first.  He was a model for Kubrick’s Buck Turgidson.

        LeMay, like the fictional Mattoon Scott, thought his president a dangerous peacenik and less than a “fucking moron”.  That he wanted him replaced is an understatement.  He was ecstatic when Johnson replaced Kennedy and happy to bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age.  His successors did, along with Laos and Cambodia. 

        Trump is addicted to the same behavior as these outsized characters. In the novel, at least, Mattoon Scott’s coup is thwarted by a Marine whistleblower and smart president. Fiction.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Reminds me of this.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Soviet_nuclear_false_alarm_incident

          On 26 September 1983, the nuclear early-warning system of the Soviet Union reported the launch of multiple USAF Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States. These missile attack warnings were correctly identified as a false alarm by Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, an officer of the Soviet Air Defence Forces. This decision is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous data on the United States and its NATO allies, which would have probably resulted in immediate escalation of the cold-war stalemate to a full-scale nuclear war. Investigation of the satellite warning system later confirmed that the system had malfunctioned.

          [Did it really malfunction? Or was it some kind of attack on the signals? (similar to GPS attacks seen in recent years) ]

          • Dev Null says:

            Saw a report today (don’t remember where) that this happened in reverse during Carter’s presidency too.

            I have a vague recollection of a similar incident (the same?) associated with a major NATO exercise, but the synapses are not responding.

            Ah, yes … Able Archer 83, which seems to be different.

  26. Wm. Boyce says:

    AP is reporting that Mr. McCabe kept detailed notes “detailing interactions with the President” and “They also recount different conversations he had with Comey…”

    This leaked as soon as McCabe was fired. The fucking stupidity of the creature and the few loyalists he has left working for him never ceases to amaze.

  27. Bay State Librul says:

    Business Insider gives us the skinny

    Just before President Donald Trump and his lawyer made their boldest appeal yet for the Russia investigation to be shut down, the special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly sent over a list of questions to the president.

    Mueller is still seeking a face-to-face interview with Trump, but the questions are said to be a starting point he wants to use for follow-ups.
    Shortly after, Trump and his lawyer, John Dowd, called for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shut down the Russia investigation and fire Mueller.

    • bmaz says:

      If you are getting information from the Business Insider, then I just don’t know what to say. Of course, Mueller “is still seeking a face to face”. This is beyond stupid reportage. It is NOT a fucking negotiation, Mueller has subpoena power, he is just toying with Trump.

      Honesty the idiocy of the “press” is almost comical, except so many people buy off on their idiot framing of basic legal procedure.

    • Trip says:

      @earl, cyber security speeches and visiting the Nahajo Nation.

      This was the last article that I could find on Wray and the FBI itself, by Murdoch’s Post, and with obvious conclusions:

      Chris Wray is quietly cleaning up the FBI
      In a healthy sign, new FBI Director Christopher Wray is slowly but surely sweeping partisan operatives out of the bureau’s executive suites all on his own. On the job just a few months, Wray told Congress in December he wanted to wait and see the evidence before taking any action against high-level investigators accused of bias and misconduct. Over the weekend, he saw some of that evidence, and it convinced him to remove his own deputy, Andrew McCabe.

      https://nypost.com/2018/02/01/chris-wray-is-quietly-cleaning-up-the-fbi/

      Perhaps he is completely on board with the latest developments.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There’s a reason for the phrase, “dumb as a post.”

        Wray was oddly out of the public loop when it came to the president and Sessions firing his own deputy.  Most directors would object, as Wray did himself in January.  Since then, nada.

        If McCabe were fired in the ordinary course, the president would get a heads up and a short briefing.  His principal concern would be to anticipate any fall-out and plan for it, as well as sign off on a replacement.  Publicly, they would do little, letting the appearance of normalcy and propriety carry the PR load.  In fact, the normal arrangement under these circumstances, would have been to let the retirement hapen, and issue a report after-the-fact about their findings.

        Trump, however, was insistent that he be able to characterize McCabe’s future statements as coming from a disgruntled former employee, someone his AG needed to fire because of poor judgment, whose credibility was, therefore, suspect.  He angled for that outcome for months, staking out public positions, goading participants, threatening both the taret of his recriminations and his superiors.  That’s the behavior of a guilty man, attempting to cover his tracks.

  28. Bay State Librul says:

    Bmaz,

    I get info from all sorts of places. Your audience can discern the wheat from the chaff.

    Not sure why you disparage them.

    You are like a bad cold, hoarse in the mouth, green in the gills, with a fractious temper (stolen from Charles Dickens)

    • bmaz says:

      You can get info from wherever you want. Personally, I find BI to be a shit source. Always have.

  29. orionATL says:

    O. T.

    the most long-term beneficial result of the trump presidency may be a congressional consensus on thoroughly reigning in, clipping,  legislatively prescribing the powers of the presidency. these powers seem to have increased presidency-by-presidency at least since the time of fdr. a president who can, e.g.,  instantaneously classify or declassify documents or  (g. w. bush) or thwart a congressional investigation of executive power torture (obama), or fire an fbi director or a special prosecutor investigating him for serious political and financial criminal activity, not to mention take the country to war on an ignorant or idelogical whim is a president with too much unrestrained power.

  30. 200Toros says:

    Honest Question: What Do We Do? Odds of Trump firing Mueller are at least 50%. What do we DO? “Write your congressman” seems pretty lame unless you are a major contributor. GOP is an enabler.  What actions do we take? What can have an impact?

  31. Jake Murrin says:

    Marcy may be an intelligent woman, but her commentary has become increasingly disconnected from reality. The FBI selectively leaked highly classified signals intelligence on Michael Flynn (not the full transcript of his conversation with Kislyak, which was apparently insufficiently damaging) for political reasons (a felony), and planted a fake story in The New York Times alleging that “Trump Campaign Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence” (which even Comey conceded was “almost entirely false” under oath). Despite many months of denials that such a thing could have occurred, we are now expected to yawn and “move on” at the revelation that Carter Page was wiretapped based on unverified opposition research that should never have been used in any part of a FISA application. (If the FBI had “verified” any of the dossier’s substantive claims, then there would have been no need to cite it directly–let alone to pad the application with a Michael Isikoff article BASED on the dossier and the FBI’s own investigation!) Marcy even claims that the dossier–which has become such an embarrassment to her in her effort to steelman the FBI’s incompetence and the new Democratic McCarthyism–is merely a “distraction,” as though that would provide any consolation to Page et al. Unless she is truly playing chess with extra pieces and has access to inside information unavailable to any of her readers, Marcy’s increasingly bold predictions that Mueller is about to imminently indict Trump for a vast Russian conspiracy just look like delusional wishful thinking. For example, if Manafort and Flynn haven’t been charged with Russian collusion, who, exactly, does Marcy posit was running the operation on the Trump side?

    • Trip says:

      Thanks random dude on the internet, for gracing everyone with your superior intellect.  You sure showed Marcy!

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