Fired FBI Official Now Discovering The 'Civilian' Delight Of Being Jerked Around By Govt' Agencies
from the welcome-to-the-private-sector,-Andy dept
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s career came to a sudden end earlier this year. Following in his predecessor James Comey’s footsteps, McCabe swiftly found himself on the front sidewalk with a Sessions footprint on his ass. An Inspector General’s report followed soon after, detailing many reasons McCabe might have been fired — lying to investigators, leaking stuff to the press, evading concerns about his investigative neutrality in light of his wife’s acceptance of donations from a Clinton-linked PAC… We don’t know if any of these are why Trump fired McCabe, but pretty much any one of these things makes a firing justifiable.
Lying to the FBI is serious business, even when it’s just its oversight. Ask anyone who’s been charged with nothing but lying when the FBI fails to build a better case. For McCabe, though, it was just a little “administrative misconduct.” Something that could be addressed with a writeup or, in this case, a firing. That the trigger was pulled hours away from McCabe’s retirement sucks for McCabe, but I find it very difficult to sympathize with career government employees who feel they’re still owed a lifetime of retirement benefits after they’ve been fired for cause.
McCabe is still trying to get what he thinks taxpayers owe him. He claims the firing was “politically motivated.” Given the general nature of Trump’s personnel decisions, he’s probably not wrong. But the IG report shows him engaged in behavior that could result in termination. McCabe doesn’t believe that’s the case and he’s demanding the DOJ hand over documents and manuals related to internal policies and firing practices. And he’s doing this like an actual civilian: by filing FOIA requests.
Unsurprisingly, that’s not working. McCabe’s lawyers are asking the DC court to force the DOJ to hand over all policies and manuals. As is argued in this quasi-FOIA lawsuit [PDF], the DOJ has been shirking its obligations to the public for decades.
Defendants have been required for over 50 years to proactively disclose the kinds of documents at issue here, and there is no just reason for either their failure to do so now or for any further delay. Defendants’ breach of their disclosure obligations have prejudiced Mr. McCabe and Plaintiff in fundamental ways, all of which flow from one of FOIA’s core concerns: No citizen should “los[e] a controversy with an agency because of some obscure and hidden [administrative material] which the agency knows about but which has been unavailable to the citizen simply because he had no way in which to discover it.”
His FOIA request was only a few days old at the time of the filing, so this lawsuit isn’t really about non-responsiveness. It’s about the DOJ deliberately playing keep-away with documents McCabe needs to determine whether or not his firing was done in accordance with DOJ policy.
This cannot possibly come as a surprise to McCabe. A career fed would know federal agencies don’t turn over documents without a fight, even when their legal obligations are clear. The FBI is barely responsive to its own oversight, so there’s no reason to believe the DOJ is going to proactively post documents for public consumption. And when it’s facing a potential lawsuit over a firing, it’s definitely going to amp up the stonewalling and denials. McCabe probably wouldn’t have minded Joe Citizen being dicked around this way, but it irritates him when he’s on the receiving end of treatment like this:
FOIA mandates that Defendants proactively disclose the applicable policies and procedures in an electronic format without waiting for an affirmative request. Defendants have failed to do so. When Plaintiff requested the pertinent documents, Defendants variously refused to comply and failed to properly, timely, or sufficiently respond. They even barred Plaintiff from accessing Defendants’ physical library, which contains some (or perhaps all) of the documents at issue here.
When you’re forced out of government service, you suddenly become keenly aware of the injustices — large and small — perpetrated daily by federal agencies. For someone who used to be near the top of the fed food chain, this pettiness and opacity must be almost unbearable. When you’re on the inside, it just looks like a measured response to stupid members of the public who won’t mind their own business. But once you’re on the outside looking in, you realize how much effort you must make just to force government agencies to comply with federal law and their own internal policies.