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Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the Justice Department and the FBI for violating his First Amendment rights by firing him for his "refusal to pledge partisan allegiance" to President Trump.

Context: McCabe, who opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was acting as an agent of Russia after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March 2018 after the Justice Department's inspector general found that he had "made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions." The termination came hours before McCabe's formal retirement was set to kick in, threatening his pension.

  • McCabe was a frequent target of Trump's Twitter attacks throughout 2017 and 2018, with the president accusing him and the Russia investigation of being politically motivated on dozens of occasions.
  • The lawsuit quotes a number of Trump's tweets attacking McCabe and his wife, whose donations to Hillary Clinton were used by the president to cast doubt on McCabe's impartiality: "How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”
  • It also notes that Trump publicly celebrated McCabe's termination: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!"

The big picture: The lawsuit alleges that Trump's pressure on the FBI to fire McCabe were part of his "unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him."

  • It comes just two days after news that former FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok is also suing the Justice Department for firing him after the discovery of 2016 texts in which Strzok "expressed his political opinions" about then-candidate Donald Trump.
  • McCabe, like Strzok, is requesting backpay, a declaration that his firing was "a legal nullity" because he had already retired by the time the termination order was issued, and reinstatement as deputy director to a date that would allow him to receive his full retirement benefits.

Read the lawsuit:

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.