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CNN hires former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe, drawing fire from Trump’s son, campaign and others

Then-FBI acting director Andrew McCabe appears before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June 2017. (Alex Brandon/AP)

CNN announced Friday that it had hired former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe as a contributor, drawing a swift backlash from conservatives, including President Trump’s eldest son and a representative of Trump’s reelection campaign.

McCabe, who authorized an investigation into Trump for alleged ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice, was fired in March 2018 after the Justice Department inspector general found he made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and lied to investigators about it.

Earlier this month, McCabe filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department, alleging that he was illegally demoted and fired as part of a plot by Trump to remove those who were not politically loyal to him.

Andrew McCabe sues FBI over firing, alleges plot by Trump to oust those disloyal to the president

Allies of Trump seized on McCabe’s hiring Friday to take aim at CNN, a news organization that the president has repeatedly denigrated as “fake news.”

“REMINDER: Andrew McCabe was fired by the FBI for leaking and getting caught lying about it,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted. “ANOTHER REMINDER: @CNN ceased being a ‘news organization’ a long time ago. They’re now a fully integrated anti-Trump propaganda network and they don’t even try hiding it anymore.”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump Jr. called McCabe and CNN “truly a match made in #FakeNews heaven.”

Matt Wolking, the deputy director of communications for Trump’s reelection campaign, also weighed in on Twitter. “Andrew McCabe was fired by the FBI for leaking to the media and lying to the FBI about it,” he wrote. “I guess crime does pay.”

Fox News hires former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as a contributor

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) leveled similar criticism, writing on Twitter, “Good work, CNN. Love to see that commitment to serious journalism.”

Asked for comment Friday, a CNN spokeswoman pointed to McCabe’s résumé, which included two decades at the FBI and a book of his that was published last year, “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.”

The furious reaction from conservatives to McCabe’s hiring by CNN mirrors a similar reaction from liberals to Fox News’ announcement on Thursday that it had hired former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as a contributor.

The twin reactions reflect perceptions of polarization and the alleged biases of the cable news networks. Just as one side denounces Fox as “state TV” in favor of the Trump Administration, the other side derides CNN and MSNBC as “the resistance” in opposition to it.

Among the critics of Sanders’s hiring was Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director who is now an NBC News contributor.

“Confessed liar earns salary increase: Sarah Sanders to join Fox News as a contributor,” Figliuzzi wrote on Twitter.

He was referring to an episode documented in the report of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. In the aftermath of Trump’s firing of FBI director James B. Comey in 2017, Sanders told reporters that “countless” FBI officials had reached out to her in support of the move.

Sanders later told Mueller’s investigators that her characterization was a “slip of the tongue.”

CNN also drew flak in February, when it announced the hiring of former Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur as a political editor, a job that would have involved making editorial judgments about news stories. Her role was subsequently switched to that of a political analyst.

Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.