Early last year, Donald Trump and his advisers gathered for a quiet, afternoon meeting at the White House to discuss immigration. But something else was weighing on the president’s mind as he and his team began to address the policy matters at hand.
During the start of the meeting, “all [Trump] wanted to talk about” was “how much he hated [Andrew] McCabe,” according to a source who was in the room. McCabe, the former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had recently been sacked by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, citing a “lack of candor.” And around the time of the Trump meeting, he had lawyered up and accused the Trump administration of launching an “ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation.”
It got Trump’s attention. The source in the room noted that the president repeatedly derailed the ostensible purpose of the meeting by calling McCabe a world-historical “loser” on at least two occasions.
A year has passed and that hatred very obviously hasn’t abated.
On Tuesday, the president was back kicking McCabe, though this time trying to knock down a story that first surfaced more than a year ago on NBC News, in which it was reported that he once called McCabe and mocked his wife for blowing an election.
“I never called his wife a loser to him (another McCabe made up lie)!” the president tweeted on Tuesday morning.
To those who know Trump, the fixation on McCabe comes as absolutely no surprise. The former acting FBI director, who is currently on an anti-Trump media blitz, has long been a subject of particular, blood-boiling ire for the 45th President of the United States. He is a longtime, career law-enforcement official, a creature of government and public service who represents the very elements of Washington D.C. and so-called “Deep State” that the president rails against.
Matters certainly haven’t been helped by Trump’s conviction that McCabe tried to plot a supposed “coup” against him by pondering the president’s ouster via the 25th Amendment; or that McCabe has gone on TV to say that he authorized the opening of an investigation into Trump following James Comey’s firing.
With McCabe now emerging again on the public stage, Trump has effectively enlisted the entirety of the Republican Party to join along in his manic, prolific cyberbullying.
The Republican National Committee’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, took to Twitter on Tuesday to declare that “McCabe can’t be trusted,” among other disses. On top of that, the RNC has blasted out a series of talking points targeting McCabe, and booked its surrogates on radio and TV specifically to boost the party line on the ex-FBI official, according to an RNC official.
On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a confidant of Trump’s, said that though he hadn’t talked to the president recently about the matter, he did intend to call McCabe before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, for further explanation of the revelations in McCabe’s book and media appearances.
“How can you ignore him?” Graham told The Daily Beast. “I can only imagine the reaction if this had been [25th Amendment] talk about getting rid of President Hillary Clinton.”
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, led by Trump ally Tom Fitton, has announced it was suing for government “coup” documents, in light of McCabe’s media tour. Virtually every prominent Trump booster on Capitol Hill, on cable news, or on the campaign took to Twitter or the airwaves to denounce McCabe and other allegedly malicious, corrupt actors.
Tellingly, one senior White House official simply called McCabe “this week’s punching bag.”
The public onslaught is virtually a retread of the textbook used by Trumpworld last April, when it descended on Comey as he embarked on an anti-Trump book tour. As with McCabe, the crusade against Comey was launched because Trump himself had ordained it.
As The Daily Beast reported at the start of Comey’s book tour, President Trump met with his White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ahead of one of her rare televised press briefings—specifically to make sure his top spokesperson went on TV to bash Comey as a fraud, a leaker, a self-promoter. “The president wanted her to rip him apart,” one White House official described at the time.
The same official told The Daily Beast this week that the “same goes for the other guy.”
—With additional reporting by Sam Stein