McCabeAt the turn of the last century, surrealists had a parlor game in Paris called “The Exquisite Corpse” where writers would create collective stories by writing lines without knowing what preceded them. The lines were often nonsensical like the line that gave the game its name: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau. ” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”) With minutes of his firing, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe became such an exquisite corpse with various politicians adding lines to his story that seemed entirely disconnected to his story. Former FBI Director James Comey used McCabe to pitch his upcoming book while former Attorney General Eric Holder used him to effectively attack career staff at his former agency. The point of the game in both politics and literature is not to advance a coherent narrative but insert your own lines into a collective story.

Before turning to the new wine given to the exquisite corpse by various players in Washington, it would be useful to address a few misconceptions about the prior story of Andrew McCabe.

McCabe was fired at the recommendation of career staff members in the Office of Professional Responsibility and Inspector General’s office. He was previously forced to take a terminal leave by the current (and apolitical) director Andrew Wray after Wray reportedly read the still unreleased IG report findings. Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted, in accepting the recommendation of the career staff, that “[b]oth the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.” Reports indicate that McCabe was viewed as misleading investigators on one of the core issues under investigation: the leaking of “sensitive information” about the investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

While it is not true that McCabe lost his roughly $2 million pension,  he was prevented from taking an early pension.  There are more serious concerns however for McCabe who is not necessarily out of the woods since he could be the subject of a criminal referral by the IG. McCabe alleged misconduct is strikingly similar to that of Michael Flynn, who was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for misleading investigators. While McCabe insists that he had the authority to give non-public information to the media, Flynn also had authority to meet with Russian diplomats as part of the transition period. Both men were targeted not due to the underlying actions but allegedly lying about them.

Now to the contributions to the Exquisite Corpse:


Various media outlets portrayed McCabe as the victim of a type of presidential bloodlust, ignoring the fact that both the IG and OPR are composed of career officials insulated from such pressure. CNN Chris Cillizza asked “If you think firing McCabe was totally the right thing to do and fully justified, ask yourself this: Why was it done at 10 pm on a Friday night?” Cillizza ignores the common practice of releasing such decisions on Friday nights by prior administrations. In 2010, for example, Obama’s Justice Department did a “Friday night dump” on allegations of professional misconduct by the authors of the “torture memos,” John Yoo and Jay Bybee. High-ranking officials however overruled career staff who recommended findings of violations of professional standards. The report was released late Friday and simply referred to the former Justice officials as having “exercised poor judgment.” Figures like Cillizza also ignore that the McCabe recommendation was only given to Sessions a short time before the deadline and McCabe was allowed to make his case at Main Justice. Finally, as noted above, he did not lose his pension.


In the news coverage, some media figures suggested that McCabe could be protected from any real pension loss. In a tweet from NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, there was a suggestion that a “friendly member of Congress” hire McCabe briefly so he could “qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days.” Democratic members responded with offers for McCabe to negate the sanction proposed by career ethics staff. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) offered to make McCabe his new “election security” expert and denounced the finding of an ethical violation as merely an effort to “discredit the FBI and undermine” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Others like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) reportedly made similar offers.  As I have previously discussed, it may not be this easy since McCabe was fired “for cause” and needs a “law enforcement” position.

James Comey

440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitFor James Comey, the firing controversy appeared an ideal time to pitch his forthcoming book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.” Comey is about to start a publicity tour in which like-minded citizens are asked to pony up roughly $100 for a few words and possible autograph with Comey. In response to an equally cringe-worthy tweet by President Donald Trump celebrating the termination of McCabe, Comey declared “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.” This apparent pitch for book sales was declared “a total burn” by supporters who relished the twitter war between the two. (While many of us recoiled when Trump displayed his own brand wine, water, and steaks in 2016 to prove he is a successful businessman, it now appears perfectly permissible to hawk your own book as proof of being an honorable man).

Eric Holder

Eric_Holder_official_portraitPerhaps the most bitter wine given the Exquisite Corpse came at the hands of former Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder declared “[t]he timing appears cruel and a cave that compromised DOJ independence to please an increasingly erratic President who should’ve played no role here. This is dangerous.” First and foremost, the “timing” was not of the choosing of the Administration. The career staff issued its recommendation shortly before the retirement of McCabe. After that date, they would lose effective jurisdiction over McCabe and the ability to punish him directly for what they saw as a major professional and ethical breach.

Holder’s attack also effectively threw the career staff under the bus. He ignored that they reached this recommendation on the merits and were seeking to enforce core Justice Department rules of ethics. Instead, he portrayed them as “caving” to pressure.

It could not be a more ironic, if exquisite, contribution. Holder was Attorney General when findings of professional misconduct in the torture memo were scuttled. It was also Holder who was rightfully voted in contempt of Congress for his own obstruction of a congressional investigation into the outrageous “Fast and Furious” operation. He was not prosecuted because the Obama Administration refused to submit the case to a grand jury. Finally, it was Holder who (as Deputy Attorney General) was implicated in the pardon scandals of the Clinton Administration when Clinton pardoned one of the least worthy candidates in history: Democratic donor and international fugitive Marc Rich. Clinton at the same time pardon his own brother, Roger, in a corrupt and disgraceful use of federal authority to benefit his family. Holder’s record was so controversial that, at his confirmation hearing, he expressed regret over the pardon scandal and promised not to cave to political pressure – a promise left unfulfilled in the view of many critics.

In fairness to Holder and the rest, the point of his parlor game is not coherence but creativity. However, for the public, there is an understandable frustration with these news stories being cycled through the salons of the Beltway.  There is also a danger to playing the Exquisite Corpse.  While these political surrealists are not making a particularly compelling story, they are building a case for the appointment of a second Special Counsel.



  1. Great guy, Col. Ralph Peters, having the courage of his convictions and exposing the Orange Ones OWN News Ch. FOX. !!! I have not looked at it since the night Megan Kelly was embarrassed by the THUG. Fox have pushed The Orange One, down people’s throats. They, have lost all sense of perspective, from the point of reporting News. If it weren’t so sad, it would be laughable, looking at their blatant coverage to boost their guy in the White House. Can’t wait to see how this all ends….it will not have a good outcome. This country, has gone to the dogs, entirely.

    1. ” This country, has gone to the dogs, entirely.”

      You must be talking about the deep state and the Democratic Party. Unless of course, you can’t stand the rise in employment, salaries and bonuses or you hate the fact that the rapid rise in the stock market helped to secure the pension plans of working people.

        1. WWAS, I would never tell you how to think. You don’t seem to know how.

          But I do put things into perspective. That is something you are unable to deal with.

  2. “N.J. Attorney General launches an investigation into Cambridge/ Facebook…” Meanwhile Republicans ran interference for Russia in the Nunes’ House Investigation.

      1. Attributed to the resignation letter of Ralph Peters, Fox analyst and retired Lt.Col. “(Fox uses) scaremongering with lurid warnings of a ‘deep state’…(Fox) advances Putin’s agenda….(Fox) launches profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, Justice Dept, the courts, the intelligence community…(Fox) fosters corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers…”

        What did Peters expect? He is a self-described conservative. The training manual of Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation spells out the intended strategy to accomplish conservative goals. The strategy is funded by the richest 0.1%. The most well known, politically active conservatives in the country who will spend $400,000,000 on the midterm elections said, “We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the previous 50…we can change the trajectory of this country.” No one questions that Fox has been a major driver in conservative Republican electoral wins.

        1. Linda – I am an ultra conservative and I have never gotten a training manual from the Right. I do have one from the Left though and you are following it. Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie.

          1. Paul, what I have discovered about Linda is she creates an agregate image with all sorts of phantasmic tentacles attached to it and all of them delivered in a salacious way to suggest that even one of the 3/4 baked story threads have an ounce of truth to them.
            It’s well delivered but reinforces the notion of reading carefully.

            1. The Kochtopus has “tentacles” backed by $1+ billion.
              The truth… conservatives don’t loathe Stalin. They revere him e.g. their training manual (Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation) calls for the appearance of overwhelming brutality so that the opponent is afraid to speak or act. A government of oligarchs drives their ambitions.
              The data to support the Koch’s boast about their recent 5 year “success”- (a) labor receiving the lowest share of national income in U.S. recorded history (2) an anemic GDP growth rate of 2.2% with all of the rewards going to the richest 0.1% (c) ALEC’s achievement- America has the most imprisoned population in the world and (d) SCOTUS, inundated with amicus briefs (17 out of 19) funded by Koch-linked groups and billionaire Uihlein attacking labor in the Janus case.

              1. Another Linda dissertation about Koch without ever responding to what Wikipedia says and Wikipedia leans to the left. She remains as untrustworthy as ever.


                As I mentioned earlier the Kochs owns Georgia Pacific which is unionized. The plants are modern, have American workers and are among the highest paid level for manufacturing jobs. Most of the workers are unionized and the relationship with the unions is very positive. How do any of these facts match with what Linda would like to tell us?

                We have also heard from Linda about how Koch is part of a plan to incarcerate people. From Wikipedia: “In July 2015 Charles Koch and his brother were praised by President Obama and Anthony Van Jones for their bipartisan efforts to reform the criminal justice system.[61][62] For roughly a decade Koch has been advocating for several reforms within the prison system, including the reduction of recidivist criminals, easing the employment process for rehabilitated persons, and the defense of private property from asset forfeiture.[62][63] Aligning with groups such as the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the Coalition for Public Safety, and the MacArthur Foundation, Koch believes the current system has unfairly targeted low-income and minority communities all while wasting substantial government resources.[62][64]
                In February 2016, Koch penned an opinion piece in The Washington Post, where he said he agreed with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about the unfairness of corporate welfare and mass incarceration in the United States.[65]

                One cannot trust anything Linda says. Very often she and her sources are factually incorrect.

                1. As Allan knows… truthful, negative Wikipedia entries look different after they are massaged by experts hired by the wealthy or by corporations who want a whitewash.

                  1. AS Linda should remember but refuses to do so I also posted from the Washington Post some of the same information. Linda has a problem, the truth stops her from promoting her ideology. I think most people by now know Linda doesn’t know what she is talking about.

          2. R. Peters has a singular opinion that is his but he has tendencies to equate his opinions with facts and therefore all other opinions represent dishonesty. In that way, he is similar to Linda. I have heard him many times in print and audio. I think his time on the air gradually filled his head with delusions of grandeur also in a way similar to Linda. One can’t listen very long to either of them for both are too narrow and fixated on very narrow points of view that seem to bounce in their heads leading to a lot of distortion.

          3. The Constitution restricts the power of Congress to tax merely for “general Welfare” omitting and, thereby, excluding the power to tax for individual welfare.

            Private property rights exclude and preclude confiscation and redistribution through “affirmative action”, quotas, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

            James Madison defined “private property” as “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

            Is that “ultraconservative”?

            1. George – I want to restore the monarchy. 😉 That’s ultraconservative.

  3. There is a brilliant blue fungus, Terana caerulea called Corpse Candle that grows on rotting logs…or dead people.

    We can marvel at all the lovely Corpse Candle growing brightly on the body of Andrew McCabe on the battlefield of politics.

  4. When a US Congress critter asked then-DNI Chief James Clapper under oath whether the NSA collects data on innocent Americans without their knowledge, Clapper assured the world the answer was “No.”

    What a relief that was. Just ignore the fact that he lied through his teeth.

    When the deep state lies, fuggetabowdit……look at that shiny thing over there…..

  5. I believe that the Professor’s article misses the resulting outcome of the McCabe firing. It was a totally unnecessary, self inflicted wound. Firing McCabe 2-days before retirement simply screams a vindictive reaction by an immature wannabe monarch. Whether it was pushed by Trump or done by a completely non-partisan internal group makes no difference to the optics, which are just about as horrible as could have been engineered. What a bunch of clowns we have running this circus.

    1. “screams a vindictive reaction by an immature wannabe monarch…”

      Daniel Mason, you need to keep up with the real news so as not to look foolish. The President had nothing to do with firing McCabe. A type of ethics committee whose head was appointed by Obama recommended the firing as did another entity within the FBI. McCabe lied and one can’t have FBI agents telling lies because they frequently testify in court and their words are considered beyond reproach. If they are seen lying without punishment the FBI loses credibility.

      Choose one, the credibility of FBI agents in court or firing McCabe for lying. You might find the optics of either choice to be bad, but choose the one you think best for the nation. The clowns you talk about are the ones that have lied and misused the FBI along with the department of justice, but you probably can’t see that for you probably believe the ends justify the means so you might be perfectly happy breaking the law to get what you want.

      1. Um, the real news is that the McCabe issue is all over the news because of the stupidity of the optics. It really makes no difference who pulled the trigger, or why, it looks stupid and vindictive.

        1. McCabe is all over the news because he was high ranking in the FBI that was caught lying and engaging in a form of treason. What you said “screams a vindictive reaction by an immature wannabe monarch…” had little to do with the truth. Start focusing on honest government rather than cheering the dishonesty of the prior administration.

          1. Um, the real news is that the McCabe issue is all over the news because of the stupidity of the optics. It really makes no difference who pulled the trigger, or why, it looks stupid and vindictive.

        2. “…is all over the news…”

          One needs to clairfy today which group of newcasters one is referencing because the Left no longer owns the market.
          Hence what is “all over the news” actually, per viewership and readership, is in actuality Drudge Report and Fox News. Just dont tell CNN, NYT and WaPo that

          Sorry but Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward let the genie out of the bottle.

      1. McCabe is only losing the ability to get his pension earlier than normal. He should actually lose his entire pension, be fined and go to jail. I don’t think he fulfills the criteria of being shot for treason. Leftists don’t bother looking at the actions of others, they look at who they serve before they make their decisions and then they wish to use other people’s money to pay for the costs.

      2. It has been reported that McCabe has a personal worth of $11million; cry me a river.

    2. Weldl put on your big boys panties and face up to the real world because that’s the way it is. And speaking clowns we find out the chief cllown of he obama era got caught taking his son to China where the clown represented the then Presidentg and the son represented some investment firm on a billion point five deal with China while daddy was making kissy face with the press about china.

    3. An astute observation. Now send in the clowns’ jock-sniffers below…

      this is to “stirrin up bedlam” danny

  6. Trump and ex-con Don Blankenship (leads in the GOP W. Va. Senate race) – “good people” (sarcasm)

    1. Huuh? that means what to who? ex conservative to use the slang of the left? Which is what it comes out like.

  7. “If the CEO’s of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook lied, their citizenship in the USA should be revoked, making them men with no country.”

    I’m all in favor of going after those people and companies including Facebook, Twitter, and the big powerhouse Google. Our privacy is gone and these companies are arming politicians (mostly on the left) in a fashion that might have devastating effects. While people are looking into Cambridge Analytica sho was it that had that close relationship with Google that today disadvantages conservative media just like Facebook and Twitter do. Obama. Obama is the head honcho when it comes to utilizing these platforms whether legal or illegal.

    Maxine Watters talked about this in 2013. I think she was shut up on this issue.

  8. I’m really tired of how we elevate these people on merit and then come to realize they have catastrophic failings in character, which we some how over look post ethical dilemma.

    Vanity, greed, lust and vanity again, saturate the oh so sucessful DC super do-goodies and we just stand there in awe when they hose the public for their own parallel capitalistic adventures they are sewing at the public’s cost.

    Maybe we should have made the French revolution a little more clear for our students when they took American history.

  9. The level of irony in the post is amazing. I’ll go with the IG’s conclusion about the knowing lack of candor on McCabe’s part as a legitimate ground for termination, but the repeated comparison on this site to Flynn are thread bare. Was McCabe plotting with a foreign power (say Turkey?) and recruiting former CIA personnel to try to kidnapped an ex pat and send him to home to the burgeoning fascist regime? And as far as flogging McCabe’s exquisite corpse, I’ve seen no mention of Trump and his supporters who for the past few days are using the McCabe story as proof positive of a “deep state” and an actual criminal conspiracy to frame the president. Why the omission professor? Not quite spit-take material but I did get a laugh out of this post.

  10. @William Bayer, March 20, 2018 at 9:11 AM

    Thanks for the informative and insightful posts, WB. You’ve cut through a good deal of distractive and obfuscating detritus regarding the McCabe affair.

    1. Conservatives dish out “distractive and obfuscating detritus” as stock and trade. Meghan McCain’s false equivalency concerning Cambridge Analytica is a perfect illustration of how outlandish the GOP can be.
      She’ s smart enough to understand compare and contrast so her comments comparing Obama’s targeted marketing to a foreign nation using data collected deceptively is a deliberate attempt to mislead and misdirect.
      Psychographic profiling to target markets has been in existence since the 50’s, used first for Ford Edsel marketing. Its application to the internet wasn’t ground breaking. The following four reasons explain what Trump’s campaign did, that had not been done before, and why it was ethically earth shattering (1) a foreign nation sought and used the information in an election (2) an international corporation, Facebook, sold personal data without knowing nor, regard for, its use (3) the information undermined the sovereignty of a nation, and (4) a false guise tricked Americans into providing their personal information for sale.

      If the CEO’s of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook lied, their citizenship in the USA should be revoked, making them men with no country.

        1. The pharmaceutical guy who got jail time for securities violations but, not price gouging, after he increased the price of life saving drugs by 800%, started crying when his sentence came down. He thought only the poor face prison. He’s half right, big Pharma executives, like their brethren bankers, will never go to jail.

          1. Martin Shkreil was a scapegoat for greed. apparently as was Martha Stewart and Wesley Snipes.
            Elizabeth Holmes is next.
            The ego attached to that greed is the issue.
            Life is truly immitaing art right now.

      1. Conservative to a leftist means anyone who disagrees with the programming and is used for anyone they disagree with. Fortunately the real conservatives are a small part of the obstacles liberal progressive social darwinians face.

        Which means the rest of can attack from the flanks and never be noticed.

        Today is day 12 after the Pennsylvania Poll in District 18. Still no winner called.

    2. Really? the due lied to his superior, lied to the FISA court and covered up information for a month. the Goverenment ethics office recommended he be fired. End of conversation.

        1. I love how you create sock puppets so you will have someone who agrees with you.

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