Andrew McCabe, former deputy FBI director now referred by the inspector general for criminal prosecution over leaks to the media, is planning to sue the Trump administration for defamation and wrongful termination. McCabe, of course, was fired just days before he was set to legally retire, based on the IG report that stated that he had leaked to the media and had lied to federal investigators. According to Axios:
McCabe’s lawyers are also seeking ways to release emails and phone call transcripts between McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey, which would offer insight into their communication about the leaks to the Wall Street Journal.
Comey, of course, has said openly that McCabe did not have his permission to leak the material at issue in the criminal probe.
McCabe’s lawyer said that Trump had engaged in “continuing slander,” adding, “We’ve never seen anything like this before. It does damage not only to Andy McCabe individually but also to the FBI as an institution.” McCabe has already raised some $550,000 on GoFundMe thanks to his firing by the Trump administration.
It will be quite difficult for McCabe to win any such lawsuit for defamation. The legal standard for defamation of a public figure is quite high: actual malice must be proven. That standard includes a false statement that the defendant knows is false or that the defendant doesn’t care is false. Now, there are courts that may rule that Trump has shown actual malice against McCabe based on his myriad tweets regarding him, but that’s not an open and shut case.
This seems far more like McCabe trying to distract from his current legal situation by misdirecting toward Trump, rather than McCabe zealously protecting his reputation. But what else is new? According to the IG report, McCabe allegedly leaked to the media regarding his involvement in the Clinton Foundation investigation for his own personal benefit.