IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Justice Department

Rubio says FBI's Andrew McCabe should have been allowed to retire

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio says he doesn't agree with how the Trump administration handled Andrew McCabe's firing.
Image: Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, appears on Meet the Press on March 18, 2018.
Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, appears on Meet the Press on March 18, 2018.NBC News

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday said he disagreed with how former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was terminated late Friday.

“I don’t like the way it went down,” Rubio said in an exclusive interview on “Meet The Press.” “I would have certainly done it differently.”

Late Friday night, Attorney General Jeff Sessions accepted a recommendation to fire McCabe, just two days before he planned to retire and gain eligibility for full pension benefits. McCabe’s termination was recommended by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and based on a review by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which has been looking into how the FBI handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“He should have been allowed to finish through the weekend,” the Florida Republican said. "If that report would've indicated wrongdoing or something that was actionable, there are things that could've been done after the fact. But, you know, 48 hours to go before retirement, I would've certainly done it differently given the fact there's still this report out there that hasn't come in.”

McCabe served as the FBI’s acting director after James Comey was fired in May and before Christopher Wray took over the position.

President Donald Trump has lashed out at McCabe on Twitter numerous times over the last several months.

"Obviously he doesn't like McCabe and he's...made that pretty clear now for over a year," Rubio said.

McCabe released a searing statement saying that his firing was part of broader attempt to damage him and weaken confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of this Administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day,” McCabe said.

Rubio added that he does not like the back and forth between people outside and inside of the intelligence agencies, noting institutions like the FBI and CIA are made up of people working hard every day. “I would hate to demoralize the workforce and more importantly, I would hate to discourage new people from coming into that, so I just don't like the whole tone,” he said.

Although there are ways to hold the agencies accountable, Rubio said, he cautioned against “smearing everybody in them with a broad stroke.”

The senator is a member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence and said it was possible that the committee should call McCabe back in for another appearance if he could add more to their investigation.

Not all Republicans, however, have been as quick as Rubio to criticize the administration's handling of McCabe's firing. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who has been leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, said he felt it was unfair to speculate on the termination without knowing what was inside the Inspector General's review.

"I don't have access to the personnel records that the F.B.I. did to see that," Conaway said on "Meet The Press."

Democrats, however, have largely come to McCabe's aid, some even offering him a job.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Sunday that many of his GOP colleagues privately gripe about the president's tone, actions and leadership, especially after brash decisions like the McCabe firing appears to have been.

"I hear so many Republican senators grumble about his ethics, about his name-calling," Brown said.

"I think at some point Republican enablers in the House and Senate are going to say publicly what they've been saying privately," he added.