FBI Director Chris Wray hinted to FBI staff in an all-employee email that a government watchdog investigation played a role in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s departure Monday, sources who have seen the memo told CNN.
Wray said in the message he could not comment on the coming inspector general report about the FBI’s conduct during the 2016 election and defended himself as not being swayed by politics.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that Wray had informed McCabe he is bringing in his own team, which McCabe would not be a part of, and that it was McCabe’s decision whether to stay at the FBI or leave.
The coming inspector general report into the handling of the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation has taken on increased scrutiny as President Donald Trump and his allies have railed against FBI officials like McCabe for months over the agency’s handling of sensitive political matters and what they argue is political bias.
Last week, the Justice Department’s inspector general told Congress it was able to recover a trove of missing text messages exchanged between two FBI employees, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who have been accused of demonstrating anti-Trump bias in the leadup to the general election.
Earlier Monday, The New York Times reported that McCabe’s sudden decision to step down came after he told friends he felt pressure to do so from Wray.
The Times, citing one official close to McCabe, said the deputy director’s decision to leave before his anticipated retirement in March came after Wray discussed the looming inspector general report and suggested demoting McCabe from the number two post at the bureau.
Rather than accept the demotion, the source told the Times, McCabe informed colleagues he would leave the bureau Monday.
CNN’s Mary Kay Mallonee, Laura Jarrett and Dan Merica contributed to this report.