The sooner-than-expected retiring of Andew McCabe isn’t likely to end President Donald Trump‘s problems with the FBI because of holdovers–including executives–still loyal to former director James Comey, according to a journalist familiar with the matter.
CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer spoke with the New York Times‘ Adam Goldman Monday afternoon about the reaction of upper-level FBI officials to news that Deputy FBI Director Andew McCabe was forced out of his position ahead of his pre-planned departure.
During that discussion, Blitzer posed the following statement-like-question to Goldman regarding the potential removal of special counsel Robert Mueller:
If the president were to fire Mueller, he’d have to go to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who would actually do the firing unless he resigned in protest.
Goldman replied in the affirmative and added, “He can’t fire Mueller. I think Trump realizes the problem is no longer [Jeff] Sessions — his problem is Rod. And if he can perhaps get rid of Rod, maybe he can replace–he can put somebody in the number two spot at DOJ who can effectively remove Mueller. I have to tell you, it seems unlikely. We’re in the home stretch of this Russia investigation. You know, it would be like cutting off his own leg if he did that, and it would not serve him well.”
Goldman then continued on, noting that McCabe’s departure comes at a bizarre time. He said, “Look, McCabe was going to retire March 18th — he was eligible to retire March 18th. He’s leaving a few weeks early. Even a week ago, McCabe didn’t even know if he was going to be able to last till March 18th–he’s not going to go on terminal leave until he is eligible to retire. So, this is widely expected.”
The New York Times reporter then made his most salient point during the mostly one-sided exchange:
Getting rid of [Comey’s] chief of staff and [FBI Chief Counsel James A.] Baker doesn’t remove the problem for Trump. That 7th floor of the FBI are all Comey people. And many of the executive associate directors who run the bureau on the 7th floor were put there by Comey…So I’m not so sure this getting rid of McCabe and [former Comey Chief of Staff Jim] Rybicki and Baker, the former general counsel, solves the bureau’s problem.
Blitzer chimed in to wrap things up, “Yeah, because these are all career FBI officials–FBI agents–all of whom have worked their way up just like Andrew McCabe.”
[image via screengrb/CNN/mark reinstein/shutterstock.com]