WASHINGTON - FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe - a frequent target of President Donald Trump's ire dating back to the 2016 presidential election - is stepping down from that job as he nears the date in March when he can retire with full pension benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.
McCabe's departure has been expected for some time, though the exact date was uncertain. The Washington Post reported in December that he planned to retire in March. At that time, people close to McCabe said he would probably use accrued vacation time to get him to the retirement date.
A person close to the matter confirmed that McCabe will still formally retire in March, but is leaving the deputy director position now, and plans to use leave time to fill out his remaining time at the FBI.
McCabe has become a lightning rod in the political battles surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian agents to interfere in the 2016 presidential race.
Last week, The Post reported that after James Comey was fired in May 2017 and McCabe assumed the director's job on an acting basis, the president asked him in a private discussion whom he had voted for in the presidential election. McCabe responded that he had not voted, according to several current and former U.S. officials.
Trump's dislike of McCabe dates back to October 2016, when news stories revealed McCabe's wife had run as a Democrat for the Virginia state legislature, aided with nearly $500,000 in donations from the political action committee of then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary Clinton, and that McCabe had gone on to oversee probes involving Clinton.
In recent months, McCabe has been harshly criticized by congressional Republicans who challenge the FBI's rationale for opening the Russia probe back in July 2016.
David Bowdich, a senior FBI official who led the agency's response to the San Bernadino terrorist attack, is expected to serve as the next deputy director, according to people familiar with the plans.