FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has resigned from his position, effective Monday – and his sudden departure is triggering speculation about McCabe's role in secret surveillance of Trump campaign officials, leaks to the media, Hillary Clinton-linked cash given to McCabe's wife and a so-called "insurance policy" against Trump's election.
Advertisement - story continues below
The news comes just days after it was revealed McCabe's name appeared in the GOP memo alleging "shocking" surveillance abuse of Trump campaign officials during the Obama administration. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former FBI Director James Comey were also named in the memo.
FBI Director Christopher Wray viewed the four-page memo on Capitol Hill Sunday. The House Intelligence Committee held a meeting Monday night and voted to release the memo to the public. The White House has indicated President Trump supports its publication for the sake of "transparency." President Trump now has five days to authorize the memo's release.
McCabe's resignation also comes just after government watchdog Judicial Watch revealed the FBI had refused to turn over text messages belonging to the deputy director.
NBC News reports that McCabe will stay on the FBI's payroll on "terminal leave" until he is officially eligible for retirement in March.
Advertisement - story continues below
Fox News contributor and investigative journalist Sara Carter claimed McCabe was actually "forced to resign."
"McCabe apparently lashed out to his colleagues when he was told he would be asked to resign, according to sources," Carter wrote.
The resignation is just the first of many more to come, according to Carter's sources.
"There are people lining up in the bureau to go after McCabe," a former FBI official with knowledge of the situation reportedly told Carter. "There will be clean-up at the Bureau of his cronies."
Advertisement - story continues below
'Did Director Wray force out McCabe' over GOP memo?
McCabe, who took charge of the FBI after President Trump fired Comey in early 2017 and before the Senate confirmed Wray's nomination to lead the federal agency, had planned to retire from the FBI by March. But his sudden resignation Monday has many people speculating that the timing has something to do with the GOP memo.
"It is disturbing that Mr. McCabe was allowed to remain in the FBI as long as he did," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement Monday. "Did Director Wray only force out McCabe because of the pending disclosures in the House dossier memo? The FBI is not above the law and the American people expect full accountability."
President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted: "Strange timing. 'Stepping down' the day after FBI brass sees the memo. I wonder what's in there?"
Advertisement - story continues below
President Trump has blasted McCabe in recent weeks and months, particularly concerning his actions during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Through much of the probe of Clinton's server, McCabe was the assistant director in charge of the bureau's Washington field office and managed resources for the investigation. He became deputy director while the probe was still underway, overseeing the entire investigation. The FBI began investigating Clinton for using a non-government email server in July 2015, shortly after her stunt became public knowledge.
Days after the Clinton email scandal gained national attention, McCabe's wife was approached by longtime Clinton ally Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe about running for office, with a major offer of campaign donations. As WND reported, McCabe's wife received more than $700,000 in campaign donations for her failed state senate campaign from two PACs, including one controlled by the Hillary Clinton ally.
An FBI internal memo titled "Overview of Deputy Director McCabe's Recusal Related to Dr. McCabe's Campaign for Political Office" outlined McCabe's potential conflicts, including the Clinton investigation. The same document revealed FBI officials directed McCabe to have no involvement in his wife's campaign and that he was prohibited from attending events or supporting the campaign in any capacity. Nonetheless, McCabe was photographed at a campaign event.
Still, McCabe refused to recuse himself from the Clinton email investigation until just one week before the presidential election.
Trump rips McCabe, suggests conflict of interest
He has also played a key role in the current investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 election campaign.
In July 2017, Trump tweeted: "Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!"
And in December, 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?"
Minutes later, Trump added: "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!"
The White House said Monday that President Trump "didn't play a role" in McCabe's departure.
Watchdog: FBI refusing to turn over McCabe text messages
Just this weekend, Fitton told Fox News that the FBI has refused to turn over McCabe's text messages.
"If [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions were serious about this, he'd recognize that this is just the tip of the iceberg," Fitton said. "He should send the U.S. Marshals in over to the FBI and to secure the evidence here. Because there are other text messages here that have yet to be turned over to Congress.
"We knew there were text messages to be had. We sued back in September for the text messages of the number two at the FBI, Andrew McCabe. And they just told us this week they gave us everything they were gonna give us and not one text message was turned over. Have they lost Andrew McCabe's text messages?"
As WND reported, McCabe's name appeared in anti-Trump texts exchanged in August 2016 between two FBI officials who had discussed an "insurance policy" in the event that Trump, then a presidential candidate, won the race for the White House.
After months of bashing Trump in texts and stating that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "just has to win," FBI counterintelligence expert Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page exchanged a cryptic text concerning a so-called "insurance policy" against a possible Trump win.
On Aug. 15, 2016, Strzok wrote: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in [Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe's] office that there's no way he gets elected – but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40 ..."
About that 'insurance policy' against Trump election ...
It's unclear what the "insurance policy" against Trump's election might have involved. However, as WND reported, the FBI's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election began in late July 2016, just weeks before Strzok's mysterious text.
And only a month before the "insurance policy" comment, the anti-Trump dossier – which was funded with cash from Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee –had been given to the FBI "near the start of July," according to former British spy Christopher Steele.
After news of McCabe's resignation broke Monday, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino tweeted: "With McCabe going on leave before quickly retiring, we are all entitled to an answer to this question, 'What exactly was the 'insurance policy' discussed in your office?'"
During his Dec. 13 show, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said: "So here's Strzok saying, 'I know you think there's no way Trump can win, but I'm afraid we can't risk it. We can't leave it to chance.' This text exposes the fact that they may have been working to secure Trump's defeat."
What this means is they're in McCabe's office, all three of them, Strzok and Lisa Page and McCabe. They're in McCabe’s office and they're worried to death and they're thinking that Trump's gonna win this thing.
And she, Lisa Page, lays out her thinking in which there's no way Trump wins. She went through every point, apparently. And he's referencing that. "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. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."
What does this mean, I am afraid we can't take that risk? It means we can't just sit around and let whatever happens happen. We can't take the risk. We've got to do something. And, boy, did they. Working with Fusion GPS, manufacturing the Trump dossier ... [which] was used to get a FISA warrant to investigate and surveil the Trump campaign. ...
The Drive-Bys are not gonna have this. The Drive-Bys are not even gonna mention this. The Drive-Bys are not even gonna reference this. But this is causing a firestorm because it does indicate that they were putting together a strategy, that Strzok was beginning to put together a strategy. He said: Look, Lisa, I hope you're right that "there's no way this guy gets elected, but we can't take that risk."
Meaning: "We can't just sit here and do nothing."
McCabe suspected in leak to media
McCabe is also suspected of leaking information about an incident involving former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus last year, according to Fox News' Howard Kurtz.
In his book, "Media Madness," Kurtz recounts a private meeting McCabe initiated with Priebus.
McCabe reportedly referenced a New York Times story alleging Trump campaign aides had contact with Russian intelligence officials. The deputy FBI director told Priebus the Times, "We want you to know that everything in this New York Times story is bulls--t."
But Priebus pointed to TV screens and noted that the mainstream media were becoming hysterical about the Times' unsubstantiated allegations. He told McCabe: "Here's my problem, they're going 24/7. Can the FBI say what you just told me?"
McCabe said he would check to see if the FBI could make a statement. However, McCabe called Priebus and later informed him that the agency couldn't comment on news reports.
"Give me a break," Priebus reportedly said. "I'm getting crushed all over the place, and you won't say what you told me privately?"
Later, Comey called Priebus and told him, "We really can't do anything about it." Comey also said he'd tell the Senate Intelligence Committee the claims were false.
But a week later, CNN ran with a story mentioning Priebus and citing "multiple U.S. officials" who claimed "the FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence."
In his Fox News report, Kurtz wrote: "Priebus was stunned by the implication that he was pressuring law enforcement. Had he been set up? Why was the FBI leaking this information when one of its top officials had initiated the conversation?'