Democrats in Congress think they’ve found a way to help former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe get access to his government pension, despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions firing him two days before he was to retire and be eligible for it.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) on Saturday extended a federal job offer to McCabe, who has worked for the FBI for 21 years. Pocan wants McCabe to work with his office on election security.
Should McCabe accept the offer, Pocan said in a statement, it would allow the former FBI official to reach the length of service he needs to retire and begin collecting his pension, estimated at $60,000 a year. (As things stand now, McCabe might still be entitled to receive his pension eventually, but the amount is in question and the payouts might be delayed for several more years.)
The congressman claims Sessions’ ousting of McCabe proves that President Donald Trump and his administration are working to “discredit the FBI and undermine” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia.
“While Speaker Ryan and House Republicans have become complicit in the President’s destruction of our democracy, we must do all that we can to ensure that the investigation into Russia’s interference in our election is completed and that future elections are safeguarded from these kinds of attacks,” Pocan said.
Sessions ousted McCabe on Friday after the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended he be fired for his alleged lack of candor during an internal review of how the FBI and Justice Department handled an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
While Trump has accused McCabe of having a political bias in favor of Hillary Clinton, the Justice Department’s internal review reportedly says McCabe authorized a discussion between FBI officials and a Wall Street Journal reporter for an Oct. 30, 2016 story, which included details damaging to Clinton’s presidential campaign.
McCabe abruptly announced he was leaving the FBI in January, amid the Justice Department’s internal investigation. He was using accrued leave to stay on the FBI’s payroll until his retirement date on Sunday, his 50th birthday.
In a statement on Saturday, Pocan called his proposal to McCabe “a legitimate offer, adding: “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of American democracy and both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about election integrity.”
The offer came in response to a tweet from NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, who suggested that a “friendly member of Congress” hire McCabe so he could “qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days.”
Other congress members have followed suit.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) offered McCabe a position in his office as special senior staff attorney assisting the House Judiciary Committee, while Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) told McCabe to call him on Monday for a federal job.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) also tweeted that he would consider hiring the former FBI official.
A former federal official familiar with retirement rules told the Washington Post that McCabe’s federal job offers, even if the roles only last a few days, could save some of his pension benefits.
McCabe’s spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz told the Post that McCabe is considering all options.
McCabe, a lifelong Republican, has been a frequent target of Trump’s scrutiny.
In 2017, Trump reportedly called McCabe into his office for a meeting, then asked him which candidate he voted for in the presidential election, according to the Washington Post. Former and current U.S. officials told the Post the conversation between Trump and McCabe is of interest to Mueller and his investigation.
In an apparent attack on McCabe’s leading role in the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation, Trump also publicly speculated that McCabe’s wife Jill McCabe, a Democrat, received money from “Clinton Puppets,” during her unsuccessful 2015 run for a Virginia state Senate seat.
Trump was apparently referencing a donation of up to $675,000 from Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee, though the donation was made before McCabe was promoted to deputy director.
The president has also criticized McCabe’s oversight of the FBI’s Clinton investigations and even mocked his retirement plans.
In response to his firing, McCabe said the Justice Department’s internal investigation “has to be understood in the context of the attacks on my credibility.”
The investigation flows from my attempt to explain the FBI’s involvement and my supervision of investigations involving Hillary Clinton. I was being portrayed in the media over and over as a political partisan, accused of closing down investigations under political pressure. The FBI was portrayed as caving under that pressure, and making decisions for political rather than law enforcement purposes. Nothing was further from the truth. In fact, this entire investigation stems from my efforts, fully authorized under FBI rules, to set the record straight on behalf of the Bureau, and to make clear that we were continuing an investigation that people in DOJ opposed.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Trump called McCabe into his office for a meeting in 2016. The meeting took place after Trump was inaugurated in 2017. Language in this story has also been updated to clarify that McCabe may still be able to access his pension payouts in several years, and that Rep. Moulton tweeted that he’d consider hiring McCabe.