President Donald Trump was incensed last May after he fired James Comey and then watched the former FBI Director on TV getting a ride home on a government plane – venting about the incident to then-acting director Andrew McCabe, according to a new report.
Trump was incredulous that Comey – who had been meeting with FBI agents in Los Angeles when he learned from television that he had been fired – would get to ride home on a government plane.
Networks aired footage of Comey boarding a plane from LA back to Washington amid widespread interest in the stunning development, reports daily mail.
After Trump asked him why Comey got to ride on the plane, McCabe responded that he hadn't been asked to authorise the flight – but that he would have approved it if he had been asked, three sources familiar with the exchange told the network.
That drew silence and then an insult from the president, who told McCabe to ask his wife how it feels to be a loser, according to the report. McCabe then replied "Okay," and Trump hung up the phone, according to the report.
The subject of Jill McCabe's railed Virginia state Senate race in 2015 had been a long source of irritation for Trump. He complained about it during the campaign and tweeted about it in December, in part of a long campaign to pressure McCabe.
"Loser" is a regular Trump, who frequently describes his own efforts in terms of winning and being successful.
McCabe was pushed out from his post after a long public pressure campaign from Trump, although the White House insisted Monday that Trump was not involved in the decision.
"The president wasn't part of this decision making process," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters just hours after news broke that McCabe – who Trump has ridiculed publicly and who Republicans accuse of bias –would be leaving.
"I can tell you none of this decision was made by that of the White House. And any specifics I would refer you to the FBI," Sanders added.
She denied the president having applied pressure to force out McCabe, and dismissed questions that Trump had been systematically pushing out an array of government investigators.
"The only thing that the president has applied pressure to is to make sure we get this resolved, making sure everybody gets the Russia fever out of their system once and for all," Sanders said.
McCabe has been at the center of a furious battle between the White House and congressional Democrats over the Russia investigation, as Trump blasts the FBI as a biased organisation that is out to get him and House Republicans attack the Robert Mueller investigation.
McCabe, 49, a career official, is "stepping aside," but will be allowed to remain on the payroll until mid-March.
Fox News reported, citing a source, that he was "removed" from his post. Sources said McCabe went on 'terminal leave,' meaning essentially taking vacation until his retirement date, and no longer reporting to work at the bureau.
Trump has also fumed about political contributions that went to McCabe's wife's campaign.
The FBI has been rocked by the revelation of anti-Trump texts between Peter Strzok, one of its most senior counter-intelligence agents, and his alleged mistress Lisa Page, a bureau lawyer.
The two called Trump an "idiot" while they were involved in the Clinton email probe and both then went on to work for the Mueller investigation. Mueller fired Strzok from his team before the texts came to light.
The texts also raised question over po-Hillary bias at the FBI. In one text during the Clinton email probe, Page texted Strzok saying: "She might be our next president. The last thing you need [is] us going in there loaded for bear."
McCabe was considered close to his former boss, James Comey. He was involved in the Clinton email probe.
Axios reported that FBI Director Christopher Wray, an FBI career official appointed by Trump, threatened to resign when Attorney General Jeff Sessions pressured him to fire McCabe.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder came to McCabe's defense Monday afternoon.
"FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is, and has been, a dedicated public servant who has served this country well. Bogus attacks on the FBI and DOJ to distract attention from a legitimate criminal inquiry does long term, unnecessary damage to these foundations of our government," Holder wrote on Twitter.
In December, Trump took the extraordinary step of ridiculing McCabe online, after a report that he was running out the clock on his government service amid intense pressure.
"FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!" wrote Trump.
In July, Trump wrote: '"Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation...."
Trump also wrote a day earlier: "Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!"
Trump also wrote in December: ".@FoxNews-FBI's Andrew McCabe, "in addition to his wife getting all of this money from M (Clinton Puppet), he was using, allegedly, his FBI Official Email Account to promote her campaign. You obviously cannot do this. These were the people who were investigating Hillary Clinton.'"
The Washington Post reported that Trump met in the Oval Office with McCabe following the president's decision to fire his predecessor, James Comey.
"Who did you vote for in the 2016 election?," Trump asked him, according to the report.
"McCabe said he didn't vote," officials told the paper. McCabe didn't get the job to succeed Comey on a permanent basis, a promotion that would have been unlikely. Trump raised concerns about McCabe's politics but let him be acting FBI Director anyway because 'there were no immediate better choices,' a White House official told the paper.
"He's been under attack from Day One," Democratic New York Rep. Eliot Engel told CNN Monday.
The latest bombshell in the Russia story comes amid a growing clash over a secret memo developed for the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee.
The New York Times reported the memo names Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the official who approved continued surveillance of former Trump official Carter Page, essentially maintaining the posture that Page could be acting as an agent for Russia.
The memo, drafted by staff for GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, also cites McCabe, CNN reported.
The Justice Department warned that release of the memo would do 'damage' to security.
Trump then vented at McCabe about hundreds of thousands of campaign contributions steered to his wife, a state Senate candidate, by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe through a PAC he controlled in 2015. McAuliffe is close to Hillary Clinton.
Trump also raised the issue to tar McCabe publicly.
"Do you remember, did anybody here remember many of my speeches where I talked about McCabe? He was the star of my speeches," Trump said.
"The man who was more or less in charge of her got the wife got $500,000 from Terry. Now Terry is Hillary," Trump said.