President Donald Trump “wasn’t a part of the decision-making process” that led to Monday’s exit of Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted shortly after word broke of his departure. McCabe exited the FBI building around noon on Monday after more than 20 years with the bureau.
Trump’s not-involvement dates back at least to May, when, according to the Washington Post, he asked McCabe who he voted for in the presidential election. McCabe’s exit follows WaPo‘s report by one week.
In May, Trump’s not-involvement included tweeting:
By December, Trump’s not-involvement extended to:
Sanders insisted the only pressure Trump has applied in this process was intended to make sure everyone got “Russia fever out of their system” and to drive home the point “there was no collusion.”
NBC News noted Trump’s “unusual” attacks on the high-ranking FBI official stem from support of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally, in McCabe wife’s run for state office in 2015.
Asked about Trump’s confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is expected to be the next to go, clearing the way for Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Sanders told reporters, “When the President no longer has confidence in someone, you’ll know.”
In June, Trump tweeted, of Rosenstein: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”
Monday’s presser comes just a few days after the New York Times reported Trump tried to fire Mueller last June, backing down when White House counsel Don McGahn declined to do the deed and threatened to quit. Trump dismissed the report as “fake news.”