Federal judge delivers blow to AG Barr in battle against former FBI deputy director

Federal judge delivers blow to AG Barr in battle against former FBI deputy director
PBS NewsHour screenshot

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has insisted that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, now a CNN contributor, was not fired for political reasons, but McCabe has maintained that the firing was, in fact, politically motivated. And a federal judge has ruled that McCabe’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice can continue.

McCabe, in the lawsuit, has argued that his constitutional rights were violated when, in 2018, he was fired as deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Barr filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but this week, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss denied Barr’s request — allowing McCabe’s lawsuit to proceed. And Moss, a Barack Obama appointee, set a schedule for discovery.

In civil and criminal cases, “discovery” is the process in which opposing sides must share evidence. So, under discovery rules, Barr has a right to know what evidence McCabe is presenting, and McCabe and his attorneys have a right to know what evidence Barr is presenting.

Reporter Matt Naham, in Law & Crime, explains, “McCabe, the judge noted, argued he was demoted as deputy director of the FBI in January 2018 and then ‘fired from his career civil service position in March 2018 — on the night of his planned retirement.’ McCabe maintained that this decision was ‘based on his perceived political affiliation, decision not to vote for then-candidate (Donald) Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and unwillingness to pledge his personal loyalty to President Trump’ — a violation of his First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights.”

In his lawsuit, McCabe has also argued that Trump was out of line when he railed against him on Twitter. And Moss, in his ruling, said that discovery was needed in order to determine whether or not former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was under political pressure from Trump to act against McCabe in 2018.

According to Naham, the DOJ has “argued, among other things, that McCabe was not fired for political reasons, but because he lied under oath when he said he didn’t authorize and didn’t know who authorized the disclosure of the Clinton Foundation investigation to the press.”

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