Here’s what Donald Trump gained by annoying FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe into retirement today: nothing. Literally nothing, unless you count his temporary satisfaction at pointlessly blowing off steam by ousting a guy that he had somehow convinced himself was out to get him. Andrew McCabe had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. Trump might as well have ousted Andrew Lloyd Webber. But Trump did accomplish one thing: he unwittingly allowed someone far more powerful to take McCabe’s place.
No offense to McCabe, who is by all accounts a good career agent. But he’d been talking about retirement for awhile. He was going to be gone soon enough of his own accord, and he was no threat to Trump in the mean time. Here’s how Trump blew it. Back when he tried to get FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe, and did succeed in forcing Wray to dump FBI General Counsel James Baker, we saw Wray respond defiantly. He replaced Baker with Dana Boente, the former U.S. Attorney whom Trump had just finished forcing out of that job. Boente helped the Feds with the prosecution of Michael Flynn, which ultimately led to Flynn’s plea deal. Trump hates Boente. Wray chose Boente for that reason.
We already know that Wray threatened to resign if Trump tried to force him to fire McCabe. This caused Trump to back down. That told Wray that Trump had no political muscle left at all. It’s why Wray knew he could get away with hiring Boente. Now that Trump has managed to annoy McCabe into calling it a day, Wray is really taking Trump’s legs out. Wray has named David Bowdich to take McCabe’s place. If you study up on Bowditch’s history and specialties, he’s the ideal guy to go after Trump.
Because Donald Trump just ran off Andrew McCabe for bogus reasons, he can’t afford to run off his replacement David Bowdich. Similarly, because Trump just ran off James Baker in bad faith, he can’t afford to run off his replacement Dana Boente. These two new guys are in position to help bury Trump, and he can’t touch them. FBI Director Wray chose them because he knows Trump can’t touch him either. If Trump were smart, he would have left McCabe alone – but he just can’t help himself.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report