WASHINGTON — Andrew G. McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who was fired for statements he made about communications between the FBI and the press, sued the FBI on Thursday, alleging that the dismissal was retaliatory and politically motivated.
The Justice Department engaged in a “politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018,” McCabe said in his lawsuit.
He added that President Trump “purposefully and intentionally” pushed the Justice Department to demote and terminate him as part of an “unconstitutional plan” to discredit and remove Justice Department and FBI employees who were “deemed to be his partisan opponents.”
McCabe, 51, was also the subject of a scathing Justice Department inspector general report that accused him of violating the bureau’s media policy when he authorized the disclosure of information to the press and of misleading investigators about what he had done.
When he was fired last March, McCabe told The New York Times that he had been let go for political reasons. He was among the first FBI officials to question whether the Trump campaign had questionable ties to Russia and whether Trump himself had tried to obstruct justice.
“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he told The Times. “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”
Earlier this week, Peter Strzok, the FBI senior counterintelligence agent in the Russia investigations, also sued the Justice Department and the FBI. He said in his lawsuit that he had been terminated because of political pressure from the president, who was enraged by text messages that showed he had been a harsh critic of Trump.
“The FBI fired Special Agent Strzok because of his protected political speech in violation of his rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” the lawsuit said. Strzok said his termination also violated his due process rights.
Neither the Justice Department nor the FBI responded to a request for comment. The FBI does not comment on pending litigation.
After McCabe was fired, Trump called his dismissal “a great day for Democracy.”
McCabe has long said that Trump’s public criticisms of him and his firing were meant to help discredit the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference and any role that the Trump campaign may have played in that activity.
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, said in his report released this spring that Russia had interfered in the election to benefit Trump. He said that the campaign itself had not conspired in that effort, even though it was receptive to help from Russia. Mueller declined to weigh in on whether Trump had obstructed justice, saying only that he was unable to exonerate the president.
While the FBI deems lack of candor to be a fireable offense, McCabe fought back against the recommendation that he be dismissed. The 21-year veteran of the FBI appealed to senior career officials at the Justice Department, to no avail.
Two days before he was eligible to collect his full government pension, Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, said that he would terminate McCabe “effective immediately” for lack of candor under oath.
Correction: Because of a web producer’s error, an earlier version of this story said McCabe was suing Trump, not the FBI and the Justice Department.