President Trump singled out two FBI officials by name Saturday afternoon, as Republicans have intensified their efforts to discredit the special counsel investigation into links between the Trump campaign and what intelligence agencies have said was a Russian effort to sway the 2016 election to Trump.
“Wow, ‘FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned,’ according to @FoxNews.” Trump tweeted. “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
Trump added, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”
Baker, a longtime FBI attorney was reportedly reassigned after Republican criticism that the FBI had been politicized against Trump.
McCabe is said to be among the FBI officials whom former FBI Director James Comey told about Trump’s efforts to shut down the investigation into Trump’s former national-security adviser Michael Flynn. McCabe’s wife, who ran for office in Virginia, received funds for her campaign from a political action committee led by Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor and Bill Clinton campaign co-chair. The FBI has said that McCabe wasn’t promoted to FBI deputy director until after his wife’s 2015 campaign, and so would not have been overseeing the Clinton investigation at the time. There’s no evidence that Trump’s former campaign rival Hillary Clinton knew about or directed those funds, or that they were meant to influence the investigation into Clinton’s email server.
The tweets are an escalation of Republican criticism of the bureau connected to former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election, an investigation that has already led to indictments and guilty pleas from former Trump associates. Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt.” Democrats have accused Trump’s allies in Congress of politicizing the investigation to protect the president from any criminal consequences that might emerge.
In July of 2016, Comey held a press conference announcing that charges would not be filed against Clinton over her use of a private email server, but he called her handling of classified information “extremely careless.” Less than two weeks before election day, Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that the FBI was looking into whether more emails had been found on Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop, a decision that many analysts say likely cost Clinton the election.
Nevertheless, Republicans—including the president—have insisted the former secretary of state received special treatment.
Trump fired Comey in May. The president later acknowledged in an interview with NBC News that he considered “this Russian thing” in deciding to fire Comey. Mueller was appointed special counsel shortly thereafter.
Flynn recently pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators—among them denying that he had spoken to Russian officials about alleviating sanctions implemented by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates, have been indicted on federal charges associated with that investigation, and—like Flynn former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos—pleaded guilty to misleading investigators.
According to the Washington Post, McCabe intends to retire as soon as he is eligible for his pension.