Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He attacked the integrity of Andrew McCabe, the acting director of the FBI, suggesting that he had been bribed by Hillary Clinton not to investigate her.

Trump tweeted this morning that part of the reason that Hillary Clinton was not under investigation for unspecified crimes was that "the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!" The money refers to support for Jill McCabe's campaign for the Virginia State Senate in 2015 provided by Democratic political organizations.

There are two factual problems with Trump's accusation that the acting head of the FBI is guilty of soliciting bribes. First, neither Hillary Clinton nor Andrew McCabe were involved in this routine campaign financing. The money came from the state Democratic party, and a PAC controlled by the Democratic governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe. As a federal employee, if Andrew McCabe had in any way "gotten" that money for his wife, he would have been committing a serious (and easily detected) federal crime. Second, the timeline for the supposed bribe makes no sense. Jill McCabe's campaign ended in November of 2015 with her loss. Andrew McCabe became deputy director of the FBI, and thus any connection to the FBI's examination of in February of 2016. He was not, ever, "in charge," since the director--James Comey--took personal control of the inquiry. 

It is not clear whether Trump knew any of this, but the fact that he seriously considered McCabe to take Comey's place as director of the FBI suggests that there might be other reasons for his sudden change of heart.

So what?

  • A president who had even the faintest suspicion that his acting FBI director was corrupt would fire him immediately.
  • It's very bad for presidents to groundlessly accuse members of his administration of felonies.
  • Accusing someone of doing something you've done yourself (and bragged about) is called projection, and it is not a sign of good mental health.