PowerLine -> McCabe’s Pension – McCabe statement suggests Comey lied to Congress

PowerLine -> McCabe’s Pension – McCabe statement suggests Comey lied to Congress

Daily Digest

  • In Re: McCabe’s Pension
  • Get Off Our Lawn!
  • The Power proviso
  • McCabe statement suggests Comey lied to Congress
  • Career DOJ employees and an Obama appointee sank McCabe
In Re: McCabe’s Pension

Posted: 18 Mar 2018 03:59 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)A lot of the commentary about the McCabe firing concerns the fact that being fired Friday night means his pension, supposedly with a value of something like $1.7 million (not sure if that is some kind of net-present-value figure or another basis), won’t fully vest, lending verisimilitude to the idea that the firing was a politically vindictive move by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (And keep in mind amidst the typical lousy reporting: McCabe isn’t losing all his pension benefits—he’ll still collect a pension, just a lesser amount.)

Here’s the thing: McCabe is 50 years old. (In fact, today is McCabe’s birthday, which is why he needed to last to today even though he was effectively fired by FBI director Wray several weeks ago. Happy birthday Andrew.) And he gets that kind of pension when he will undoubtedly go on to work in the private sector? But more to the point: if we moved public employees from defined-benefit pensions to defined contribution pensions (that is, 401Ks) like most everyone else in the private sector, McCabe would probably have an actual account balance in the same neighborhood that would belong to him, in which case it wouldn’t matter when or if he was fired because no one could take it away from him, and he wouldn’t had to serve out the clock to his 50th birthday or 20-year mark. And since 401K plans are largely transferrable, he could continue building it up at his next position in the private sector, or with another government agency.

It would be the height of irony if one unintended effect of the McCabe firing is adding some force behind efforts to reform public sector pensions at all levels.


Get Off Our Lawn!

Posted: 18 Mar 2018 11:26 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)I spent the end of last week in Washington DC with a hectic schedule of meetings and mischief, including, most importantly, doing a number of one-on-one interviews with great people for the Power Line podcast. Stay tuned for details as these roll out over the next two weeks.

And one of these podcast adventures was a return visit to Jonah Goldberg’s Remnant podcast, in which I joined with Jonah and Charles Murray to offer career and life advice to a live audience of overachieving young people. Jonah describes us as “a supergroup of curmudgeons.” I’ll take that. (One commenter has called it “Curmudgeonstock,” which I like ever better!)

This episode is quite long at one hour and forty-two minutes, but we’re getting a lot of good feedback about it. Here’s the Ricochet link.


The Power proviso

Posted: 18 Mar 2018 06:33 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)As I have said a time or two before, Samantha Power made a name for herself with a book proclaiming our obligation to stop genocide abroad. Once she took office in the Obama administration, however, she became an apologist for Obama’s detachment from the catastrophe in Syria and his deal with the genocidal maniacs in Iran, among other things. It’s almost enough to make one question her bona fides, or even to suspect she may be a complete fraud.

No one has done justice to the phenomenon of Samantha Power. It might be the task of a lifetime. Seth Mandel nevertheless made a good start in the 2017 Commentary essay “The cautionary tale of Samantha Power.”

Power also played an untold role in the “unmasking” of Trump transition officials caught up in foreign surveillance. She has testified that certain of the “unmasking” requests were made by others using her name. Perhaps someday we’ll know the truth. She should be in the middle of an old-fashioned scandal. Is anyone on the case?

Yesterday Power took to Twitter to comment on the mad barking former CIA Director John Brennan. Lee Smith, incidentally, has demonstrated that Brennan is himself a protagonist in the underlying scandal. A reasonable reader might infer that she is aware of the hazard of exclusion from Brennan’s circle of love, or interpret it an advisory from one who knows.

Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan. https://t.co/VLg94OLL2R

— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) March 17, 2018

Lest she is thought to have committed a Kinsley gaffe by accidentally intimating the truth — it’s not her style — Power tried to clear it all up.

Whoa! Just home & see much misinterp. of earlier tweet. It’s testament to polarized times that it cd be misread as referring to something other than Brennan’s indignation. So will translate: not a good idea to upset @JohnBrennan bc/ he will raise an angry (& eloquent) voice. https://t.co/YgIjeKGAlp

— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) March 18, 2018


McCabe statement suggests Comey lied to Congress

Posted: 17 Mar 2018 10:26 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)As I understand it, the core accusation that led to the firing of Andrew McCabe is that McCabe misled investigators about giving information to a former Wall Street Journal reporter regarding the investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family’s charitable foundation. In his post-firing statement, McCabe asserted that he not only had authority to “share” that information with the media but did so with the knowledge of “the director.” The FBI director at the time was James Comey.

Here is what McCabe said:

I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As deputy director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.

(Emphasis added)

Maybe. But Jonathan Turley points out that if the “interaction” means leaking the information, then McCabe’s statement would seem to contradict statements Comey made in a May 2017 congressional hearing. Says Turley:

Asked if he had “ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation” or whether he had “ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation,” Comey replied “never” and “no.”. . .

McCabe appears to be suggesting that Comey was consulted before the alleged leak to the media on the Clinton investigation. Many of us had speculated that it seemed unlikely McCabe would take such a step without consulting with Comey. Yet, Comey repeatedly stated that he had never leaked nor caused anyone to leak information to the media.

Comey, by the way, is about to release his book, the title of which is A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. According to Turley, he has started selling tickets, for roughly $100 each, to attend the book tour events.

Suddenly, the title of Comey’s book seems apt. If McCabe’s statement about Comey’s leadership is the truth, then Comey’s testimony to Congress looks like a lie.


Career DOJ employees and an Obama appointee sank McCabe

Posted: 17 Mar 2018 09:47 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)The firing of Andrew McCabe has heads exploding among members of the anti-Trump resistance. No surprise there.

However, at Lawfare, a resistance site, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes say they are reserving judgment about the firing, and they caution others to do the same. “It is simply not clear at this stage whether or not the record will support his dismissal,” they say.

They are right. It isn’t clear, and won’t be until the full inspector general report on the Clinton email investigation, including information on McCabe’s conduct, is released.

However, there is a sound basis to form a tentative belief that the firing of McCabe was justified. That basis comes through in what Jurecic and Wittes write:

The FBI takes telling the truth extremely seriously: “lack of candor” from employees is a fireable offense—and people are fired for it. Moreover, it doesn’t take an outright lie to be dismissed. In one case, the bureau fired an agent after he initially gave an ambiguous statement to investigators as to how many times he had picked up his daughter from daycare in an FBI vehicle. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the agent when he appealed, finding that “lack of candor is established by showing that the FBI agent did not ‘respond fully and truthfully’ to the questions he was asked.”

So if McCabe was less than candid in answering questions, his firing was justified and consistent with FBI practice. Was he? We don’t know. But the finding that McCabe did not meet FBI standards for honesty was made by career Justice Department officials, not Jeff Sessions or other political appointees. As Jurecic and Wittes say:

[A]lthough Sessions made the ultimate call to fire McCabe, the public record shows that the process resulting in the FBI deputy director’s dismissal involved career Justice Department and FBI officials—rather than political appointees selected by President Trump—at crucial points along the way. To begin with, the charges against McCabe arose out of the broader Justice Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

While the inspector general is appointed by the president, the current head of that office, Michael Horowitz, was appointed by President Barack Obamaand is himself a former career Justice Department lawyer. As Jack Goldsmith has writtenthe inspector general has a great deal of statutory independence, which Horowitz has not hesitated to use: Most notably, he produced a highly critical 2012 report into the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” program. So a process that begins with Horowitz and his office carries a presumption of fairness and independence.

(Emphasis added)

Once Horowitz was done, other career DOJ officials were handed the baton — officials whose work should also be presumed fair and independent.

After investigating McCabe, Horowitz’s office provided a report on McCabe’s conduct to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which investigates allegations of misconduct against bureau employees. This office is headed by career Justice Department official Candace Will, whom then-FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed to lead the OPR in 2004. According to Sessions, the Office of Professional Responsibility agreed with Horowitz’s assessment that McCabe “lacked candor” in speaking to internal investigators.

Finally, Sessions’s statement references “the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official” in advocating McCabe’s firing on the basis of the OIG and OPR determinations. (The official in question appears to be Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools.)

So while Sessions made the decision to dismiss McCabe, career officials or otherwise independent actors were involved in conducting the investigation into the deputy director and recommending his dismissal on multiple levels.

(Emphasis added)

Is it possible that a process conducted by career DOJ employees with no apparent ax to grind against McCabe reached the wrong conclusion, either on the facts or on the recommendation that should flow from the facts? Of course, it’s possible. Is it likely? I don’t think so.

In any event, the process Jurecic and Wittes describe is at odds with McCabe’s self-serving claims that his discharge was an attempt to harm the FBI or undermine the Mueller investigation. Neither the inspector general nor the career employees who made recommendations based on the inspector general’s findings could plausibly be said to want to harm the FBI or undermine Mueller.

McCabe is trying to shift the focus away from his conduct by casting himself as a victim of President Trump. He hopes that widespread hatred of Trump will enable him to pull this off. It’s good to know that at least one precinct of the resistance isn’t going along uncritically.


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