Donald Trump is finally getting his way. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down, according to a breaking news report on MSNBC. This is not surprising. Trump has been targeting McCabe, both publicly and privately, for months. McCabe has been hinting to the media that he’s looking to retire anyway. Trump is surely strutting right now, thinking he’s succeeded in his goal of protecting himself in the Russia scandal. In reality, Trump just blew it.
For months, Trump’s allies in the Republican Congress and on Fox News have been spinning one phony controversy about McCabe after another. Because his wife is a Democratic politician, they’ve painted him as being some kind of bought-and-paid-for Hillary Clinton plant. The point of this was to make him into a bogey man: as long as McCabe was the #2 guy at the FBI, perhaps some of the public would believe that he truly was rigging the Russia investigation against Trump on Hillary’s behalf. Trump, however, didn’t seem to understand the diversion.
Trump ended up convincing himself that McCabe really was some kind of Hillary double-agent who was going to take him down in the Russia scandal. Trump began attacking, threatening and taunting McCabe on Twitter. He demanded that FBI Director Christopher Wray fire McCabe. Trump seemed to think that because Wray was a Republican, he would be eager to get rid of McCabe, a Democrat. But law enforcement officials don’t think in those terms. Wray refused and threatened to resign.
Donald Trump ended up having to badger Andrew McCabe into quitting. Sure enough, he got his wish today. But he wasn’t supposed to get rid of McCabe. He was supposed to keep him around, so his allies could keep falsely pinning every phony conspiracy theory on him. Now that McCabe is gone, the plan falls apart. So Trump blew it strategically. Not only that, McCabe had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. Trump put all this effort into forcing out a guy who couldn’t hurt him even if he wanted to. Meanwhile, now that Trump thinks he’s won, he’ll likely relax and take his eye off the people who are actually investigating him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report